U.S. authorities charged 29 people with smuggling $325 million in counterfeit consumer goods from China through a New Jersey port.
The bust was one of the largest counterfeiting probes in U.S. history, and it involved smuggling cigarettes, handbags and sneakers through the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal as U.S. agents secretly watched and listened, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. Agents infiltrated two overlapping criminal rings and lured them to use a front company run by the government.
Authorities arrested 23 people in New York, New Jersey, Texas and the Philippines. Prosecutors said they used phony paperwork to import goods in corrugated shipping containers, used distributors and wholesalers, and laundered illicit proceeds.
Aside from Nike and Coach, the counterfeited brands including UGG boots; Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbags; and Ed Hardy and Juicy Couture clothing, according to an AP report.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducted parallel probes of crimes at the port, which moves 2.5 million containers annually. The rings eventually overlapped, and the agents coordinated their investigations.