Multi-million dollar trademark counterfeiting rings, operating from facilities in Queens and Brooklyn, have been charged for importing, manufacturing and distributing items nationwide.
According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, four organized trademark counterfeiting rings have been dismantled after the indictment of 26 individuals and two corporations for allegedly importing and selling counterfeit brand name apparel and other items from China to wholesale buyers throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands.
“Operations such as those allegedly run by the defendants fuel an underground economy,” said Brown. “They are cash businesses that pay no taxes and damage the reputations of reputable brand owners and lower consumer confidence in the name brands by foisting inferior products into the marketplace.”
The four rings allegedly generated close to $10 million in combined gross annual revenue operating out of self-storage facilities in the two boroughs. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, a multi-agency task force operating under the City’s Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office, will be filing nuisance abatement lawsuits against the facilities that allegedly were being used, as well as their owners and operators and those defendants who actually ran the illegal businesses from within the sites.
Nineteen of the defendants, including one of the corporations, are currently in custody and were arraigned on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Twelve of the defendants have been indicted for enterprise corruption under New York State’s Organized Crime Control Act. The remaining defendants face felony trademark counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.
The investigation, called “Operation Finish Line,” began in November 2010, and included the apprehension of counterfeit merchandise with an estimated street value of $750,000.
One of the counterfeiting enterprises, The Izak and Joseph Trademark Counterfeiting Enterprise, has been charged with enterprise corruption. It is alleged that since May 2012 the enterprise has imported more than 100,000 pairs of jeans and more than 100,000 articles of clothing, including blank shirts, fleece jackets, and steep-tech style jackets. It is also alleged that the enterprise created several factories that attached counterfeit trademarks of True Religion, Polo Ralph Lauren, and The North Face to the formerly generic product, and the finished product is then sold and distributed throughout Queens and the country.
This enterprise included four Queens individuals who were indicted after the bust. One of the individuals in the enterprise that was charged is Bobak Ahouraie, 23, of Bellerose. He was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Suk B. Yi, 18, of Oakland Gardens, was charged with enterprise corruption, first- and second-degree trademark counterfeiting and fourth- and fifth-degree conspiracy. Samantha Defreitas, 26, of Woodhaven, was charged with third-degree trademark counterfeiting. Jan Sanandaji, 37, of Great Neck, is charged with second-degree trademark counterfeiting.
The second ring, known as The Xiu Wei Ye and Jian Zhong Jian Operation, conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation where they purchased footwear and other items featuring counterfeit trademarks of various brands and maintained the items at their Brooklyn store and sold the items wholesale to customers throughout the country, including undercover police officers.
Individuals charged in this group included Jian Zhong Jian, 43, of Flushing who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit, and Xiu Wei Ye, 43, from Flushing, who was charged with second- and third-degree trademark counterfeit.
The third ring, known as The Peter Operation, allegedly conducted a large scale trademark-counterfeiting operation in which they maintained the merchandise at its store in College Point.
The final ring, known as The James, Leon and Omar Untaxed and Trademark Counterfeiting Cigarette Operation, allegedly bought and sold untaxed and trademark counterfeit cigarettes and supplied those cigarettes to Bobak Ahouraie, of Bellerose. Ahouraie was charged with second-degree trademark counterfeit in his involvement in this operation.