$25M counterfeit ring busted on LI

April 16, 2008 2:52:42 PM PDT
Police on Long Island broke up a counterfeit merchandise ring Wednesday. The goods included more than 20,000 pairs of knockoff Nike sneakers, fake designer handbags and other trademark items. In total, authorities say the merchandise had a street value of $25 million.

Two men from Queens, identified as "mid-level warehouse runners," were arrested on federal counterfeiting charges earlier this month. The arrests followed a six-month investigation involving local police and federal prosecutors, as well as immigration and customs officials and others.

In addition to the Nikes, police found knockoff Duracell and Panasonic batteries, counterfeit baseball caps and fake Louis Vuitton handbags.

Police say search warrants were executed in Edison, New Jersey; Long Island City and New Hyde Park, Long Island.

Authorities believe the goods were sold at flea markets, street fairs and other locations in the metropolitan area, although investigators said they were still investigating the breadth of the operation, which they believe has links to conspirators in China. Police said they seized records of money transfers being sent from the United States to banks in China.

Warehouse raids uncovered huge stacks of cardboard boxes filled with sneakers, handbags, hats and other items of clothing, including dozens of boxes of Timberland boots.

Authorities also seized sophisticated presses and other equipment that produced the phony logos and stamped them onto products like the boots.

The two men charged in the scheme were arraigned earlier this month. One of them, Jin Ming Yu, 43, of Woodside, was being held without bail. A telephone number for his attorney was not immediately available. The second man, Feng Ye, 44, of Corona, was released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond.

The men were not considered the ringleaders of the operation, although police said there was evidence one of them was transferring money to accounts in China.

"Several other people are being sought," Nassau County Detective Sgt. Pat Ryder said.