Federal agents have announced that they’ve busted a smuggling ring that brought hundreds of millions of dollars worth of knockoff products into the US, says the NYT.
The charges, revealed yesterday in a complaint issued in Federal District Court in Manhattan, followed a yearlong investigation in which an undercover customs agent posed as a longshoremen’s union official and took nearly $500,000 in bribes to let the illegal shipments pass through the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey.
The undercover agent had nearly daily contact with the smugglers, who included Chinese manufacturers, a customs broker and a husband-and-wife team that owned a Brooklyn trucking company, officials said.
While officials declined to say how the investigation started, the complaint said that in August 2006, Michael Chu, 70, of Manhattan, approached the undercover agent and asked for his help in moving the illegal containers through the port. Mr. Chu paid the agent $100,000 in cash bribes to smuggle about 20 containers carrying fake consumer goods with a value of more than $24 million, the complaint said.
Some of the fake products included Coach wallets, Burberry handbags, Ralph Lauren clothing and Nike shoes. The shoes were listed on ship manifests as “refrigerated noodles.” Ew. You’d like to think that labeling something as food would attract more attention, not less. Yuck.
10 Charged With Smuggling $200 Million in Fake Goods [NYT]