US Attorney Remarks Concerning United States v. Michael Chu et al

LAWFUEL -The Law Newswire :
Michael J. Garcia
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
New York, New York
December 5, 2007

GOOD AFTERNOON.
TODAY WE ANNOUNCE THE ARRESTS OF TEN INDIVIDUALS IN ONE
OF THE LARGEST COUNTERFEIT SMUGGLING CASES EVER BROUGHT
IN UNITED STATES HISTORY. THE DEFENDANTS ARE CHARGED WITH
SMUGGLING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF COUNTERFEIT
GOODS FROM CHINA INTO THE UNITED STATES. IN ORDER TO GET
THEIR COUNTERFEIT MERCHANDISE THROUGH CUSTOMS, THE
DEFENDANTS SOUGHT TO BRIBE WORKERS AT THE PORT WITH CASH
AND DISGUISE THEIR CARGO WITH FRAUDULENT DOCUMENTATION,
ACTIONS THAT COULD SERIOUSLY UNDERMINE OUR PORT SECURITY
IF UNDETECTED.

DURING THE COURSE OF THIS LONG-TERM INVESTIGATION, FEDERAL
AUTHORITIES IDENTIFIED MORE THAN 100 SHIPPING CONTAINERS
HOLDING CHINESE-MADE COUNTERFEIT GOODS COMING INTO THE
U.S. THROUGH NEW JERSEY PORTS. CARGO INCLUDED KNOCK-OFF
CHANEL BAGS, NIKE SNEAKERS, AND DESIGNER JEANS, WITH A
TOTAL MANUFACTURER’S RETAIL PRICE IN EXCESS OF $200 MILLION.
IN ARRANGING THE SHIPMENTS, A NUMBER OF THE DEFENDANTS
WORKED DIRECTLY WITH THE FACTORY OWNERS AND PRODUCERS
OF THE COUNTERFEIT GOODS IN CHINA; THOSE OWNERS COULD
EARN UP TO $130,000 IN PROFITS FOR EACH CONTAINER. THE GOODS
ARRIVED FROM CHINA PACKED IN 40-FOOT LONG STEEL SHIPPING
CONTAINERS ACCOMPANIED BY FRAUDULENT SHIPPING
PAPERWORK SUBMITTED TO MISLEAD CUSTOMS AND BORDER
OFFICIALS ABOUT THE CARGO.

CHARTS
IN AN ATTEMPT TO CLEAR THE GOODS WITHOUT SCRUTINY, THE
DEFENDANTS PAID AT LEAST $500 THOUSAND IN CASH BRIBES TO AN
UNDERCOVER ICE AGENT THEY BELIEVED WAS A CORRUPT
LONGSHOREMEN’S UNION OFFICIAL. ONCE THE CONTAINERS
CLEARED SECURITY, THEY WERE MOVED TO WAREHOUSES ALL
ACROSS THE NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA, ULTIMATELY FOR
DISTRIBUTION TO RETAIL MARKETS.

IN ADDITION TO THE BRIBES, THE SMUGGLERS PROTECTED THE
SECURITY OF THEIR SHIPMENTS BY USING A FEDERALLY LICENSED
CUSTOMS BROKER WITH ACCESS TO AN ELECTRONIC CUSTOMS
DATABASE WHICH TRACKS THE STATUS OF CONTAINERS AT THE
PORT. THE CUSTOMS BROKER USED THAT ACCESS TO PROVIDE THE
SMUGGLERS WITH INFORMATION, SUCH AS WHETHER THE
CONTAINERS WERE BEING INSPECTED OR DETAINED BY CUSTOMS.
TWO OTHERS, A HUSBAND AND WIFE TEAM OPERATING A
BROOKLYN-BASED TRUCKING COMPANY, THEN TRANSPORTED THE
CONTAINERS OF COUNTERFEIT GOODS FROM NEWARK TO
LOCATIONS THROUGHOUT THE METROPOLITAN AREA, AND
CHARGED A PREMIUM TO DO SO BECAUSE THEY KNEW THEY WERE
TRANSPORTING ILLEGAL GOODS.

EARLY THIS MORNING, ICE AGENTS AND THIS OFFICE EXECUTED
SEARCH WARRANTS ON FOUR LOCATIONS IN MANHATTAN,
BROOKLYN, AND NEW JERSEY ASSOCIATED WITH THE SMUGGLING
RING AND SEIZED TWO TRUCKS USED TO TRANSPORT THE
CONTAINERS. ALL TEN DEFENDANTS NAMED IN THE COMPLAINT
HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, INCLUDING THE TENTH DEFENDANT LISTED
ON THE COMPLAINT, NOW IDENTIFIED AS YEE KHIONG TING.
FOR OVER A YEAR, THIS INTERNATIONAL SMUGGLING
ORGANIZATION ENGAGED IN A SCHEME DESIGNED TO EVADE OUR
BORDER SECURITY CONTROLS. IT IS ALWAYS DEEPLY TROUBLING
WHEN A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE SEEKS TO CIRCUMVENT OUR PORT
SECURITY, WHATEVER THE FORM OF CONTRABAND, AND WHEREVER
THE POINT OF ENTRY. THROUGH THE GREAT WORK OF THESE TWO
HOMELAND SECURITY AGENCIES — IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS
ENFORCEMENT AND CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION — THIS
OPERATION WAS DETECTED AND DISMANTLED.

AGAIN, I WOULD LIKE TO COMMEND THE WORK OF THOSE AGENTS
OF IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT IN NEWARK,
PARTICULARLY THE TREMENDOUS EFFORT OF THE UNDERCOVER
WHO ACTED IN THAT UNDERCOVER CAPACITY EVERY DAY FOR
MORE THAN ONE YEAR, AS WELL AS THE WORK OF THE OFFICERS AT
CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION.
THANK YOU.

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