New York City feds just pulled off the largest seizure of counterfeit items in United States history.
On Nov. 15, Adama Sow, 38, and Abdulai Jalloh, 48, were arrested in connection to approximately 219,000 counterfeit items retailing $1.03 billion. According to the Department of Justice, Jalloh also went by Troy Banks. The items seized included bags, clothes, shoes and other luxury products.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, said Sow and Jalloh distributed “massive amounts” of designer knock-offs from a storage facility in Manhattan from January to October of this year. The feds say Sow was in charge of a premises wherein 83,000 counterfeit items retailing over $502 million were seized. Jalloh allegedly trafficked fake items at another Manhattan-based site and oversaw a premise that held 50,000 now-seized items retailing over $237 million.
Photos taken at the distribution site showed palettes of stacked boxes and hundreds of fake designer handbags and wallets — including knock-off Louis Vuitton and Burberry.
The two defendants stood in court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger on Nov. 15. Both were charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods and face a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
The Department of Justice highlighted that “the street value of counterfeit goods typically is significantly lower than the MSRP,” or manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which is what the retail values in this reporting are based on.
HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said the big apprehend of fake designer Louis Vuitton and Burberry was a win for New York “in the fight against intellectual property theft.”
“One purse might seem harmless, but the production and sale of imitation products is far from a victimless crime,” Arvelo added, according to the New York Post. “We will not allow opportunists to convert public warehouses into their own illegal shopping centers or to wreak havoc on the streets of New York City, nor will we relent in our efforts to combat transnational criminal organizations smuggling these items through our borders.”
“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime because it harms legitimate businesses, governments, and consumers,” noted NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “We will continue to work hard to hold accountable anyone who seeks to benefit by selling such items on the black market.”
The New York Post alleged that the items were housed at Gotham Mini Storage between Midtown West and Hudson Yards neighborhoods in Manhattan. Notably, the location is right by the Port Authority and the Lincoln Tunnel, which tens of millions pass through yearly.
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