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Fake condoms, items seized in Ridgewood

Federal agents raided a Ridgewood building and several other sites in New York and New Jersey last week, seizing millions of counterfeit condoms and other fake goods manufactured in China, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney for New York's Eastern District said. Nine people were arrested.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents entered a building at 18-28 Troutman St. in Ridgewood and removed two large truckloads of counterfeit merchandise, including fake Trojan condoms, Marvel Comic books, Major League Baseball caps, Disney products, backpacks, Tommy Hilfiger items and footwear, ICE spokesman Harold Ort said.

The Ridgewood building is used by the ZX Trading Company, according to the criminal complaint.

"Clearly, counterfeit condoms are not obligated to meet standards, so they present health and safety concerns," Ort said. "People want the products they use to be safe."

On March 28, undercover agents from ICE purchased counterfeit trademarked items at the Ridgewood site, including Barbie dolls and Disney and North Face products, the U.S. attorney said. Several of the other defendants had been arrested earlier after they allegedly attempted to deliver 192,000 packs of counterfeit Trojan condoms to a Bronx parking lot in January 2007, he said.

Ort said the agency had not yet determined how much the seized goods were worth, but knew they were valued in the millions of dollars. He said the items had been produced overseas and brought into the United States illegally.

According to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney's office, nine people were arrested in the raids, but their home addresses were not available. Four of the defendants, including a brother and sister, were arraigned last week in Central Islip's federal court on charges of counterfeit goods trafficking and structuring of financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, a spokesman for U.S. attorney Benton Campbell said.

Two of the defendants' bails were set at $50,000, while a third defendant's was set at $100,000, the spokesman said. The fourth defendant was detained, he said.

Five other defendants were still waiting to be arraigned in the bust, he said. Each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, he said.

Ort said the sale of counterfeit goods takes away an estimated $250 billion and 750,000 jobs per year from the U.S. economy.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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