(adds drug ring, smuggling details, byline and dateline)
By Gianna Palmer
NEWARK, N.J., March 2 (Reuters) - More than two dozen
people from the United States and China were charged on Friday
with running a $325 million counterfeit goods ring through a New
Jersey port, one of the largest knock-off smuggling busts in
history, authorities said.
Simultaneous stings by two federal agencies at Port
Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth, New Jersey, also
uncovered a related scheme to smuggle crystal methamphetamine
into the U.S. from Taiwan.
"It's huge," said New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman at a
press conference, standing beside photographs of mountains of
boxes of the seized bogus goods.
"It's one of the largest counterfeit goods cases ever
investigated in this district and one of the largest ever
prosecuted in the country," Fishman said.
More than two years of undercover investigations by the FBI
and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resulted in
the indictment of 29 people, including 22 who were arrested in
the U.S., one picked up in the Philippines and six still at
Knock-offs of hot consumer items including Nike sneakers,
Lacoste shirts and Louis Vuitton handbags were packed into
shipping containers imported from China through Elizabeth, the
busiest port on the East Coast.
The brand-name insignias were concealed during shipment
through various methods and, once the goods arrived in the U.S.
and were moved to a warehouse, were "processed" to reveal the
logos. In one case, authorities said, fake Ugg boots were
shipped with an unmarked sole that was then removed in the
warehouse to reveal a sole beneath it that read "Ugg."
From the warehouse, the goods were distributed to New York,
New Jersey and elsewhere throughout the country, authorities
The scheme depended on fraudulent documents ranging from
bogus shipping paperwork to fake Social Security cards used by
"The counterfeit goods were manufactured in China and
smuggled into the United States through containers falsely
associated with legitimate importers," authorities said in a
Federal authorities said arrests were made in New Jersey,
Texas, New York and the Philippines.
"The cost of counterfeiting is incredibly high -- in the
billions and billions of dollars lost to legitimate companies,"
(Writing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.