Authorities seized more than $2 million worth of counterfeit goods in Queens bearing logos of such designers as Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, The North Face and Versace.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said seven borough residents were charged in connection with the investigation that enabled authorities to confiscate some 13,000 fake items, ranging from belts and handbags to watches, boots and scarves.
“Trademark counterfeiting is not a victimless crime,” Brown said. “Small counterfeit operations like this one discovered as a result of this investigation fuel an underground economy.”
Dubbed “Operation Treasure Hunt,” the probe began last summer and it was led by the NYPD, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations and Brown’s office.
According to five criminal complaints filed by the DA, the knockoffs were seized from storage facilities located in Jamaica and College Point.
“They are cash businesses that pay no taxes, damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace,” Brown said.
During the operation, police arrested Naqing Zhang, 31 and his wife, Wei Wei Dong, 32, of Whitestone; Chin Chu, 43, and his wife Jian Xia, 38, of Flushing; Sai Chen, 39, of Flushing; Wei Liao, 41, of Jamaica; and Pizhong Zhou, 22, of Douglaston.
The defendants face up to four years in prison if convicted of trademark counterfeiting charges. They were released on their own recognize.
“Trademark counterfeiting is a global economic problem that costs manufacturers millions of dollars, which translates into the loss of jobs for many hardworking people,” said William Bratton, the police commissioner.
According to one criminal complaint, an undercover agent purchased more than 50 counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags from two of the defendants between July and December. In a search warrant, authorities confiscated more than 5,300 fake goods, the DA said.
Another criminal complaint said an undercover operative was able to buy last month more than 30 boots and jackets with The North Face, UGG and Michale Kors logos. During a search warrant, police confiscated more than 2,300 knockoff items, the court papers said.
“Counterfeiters are eager to draw in holiday shoppers to profit from the sale of fake products,” said James Hayes, from Homeland Security. The arrests and seizure of the fake goods “will keep unwitting customers from spending their hard-earned dollars on knockoffs.”
Brown said another criminal complaint alleged that one of the defendants sold more than 25 Beats by Dr. Dre headphones to an undercover officer.
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto
©2014 Community News Group
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