Feds Bust Major Smuggling Operations

NEWARK – Federal agencies coordinating parallel international investigations have disrupted massive conspiracies to import hundreds of millions of dollars in counterfeit goods from China and illegal drugs from Taiwan to the United States, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Associate Director James A. Dinkins announced.

Law enforcement used undercover agents and court-authorized wiretaps to uncover two elaborate schemes to defeat federal border and port security measures at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth. Of the 29 charged in New Jersey in an indictment and three criminal complaints as a result of those investigations, 23 are currently in federal custody.

Federal agents arrested Hui Sheng Shen, a/k/a “Charlie,”and Huan Ling Chang, a/k/a “Alice,” on Saturday, Feb. 25, in New York. Soon Ah Kow, indicted in January, was also arrested Saturday in Manila, the Philippines. Twenty defendants were arrested this morning in a coordinated, multi-agency takedown. Six of the charged defendants remain at large.

The federal investigations into the smuggling of counterfeit goods also uncovered an alleged scheme to import 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. Approximately one kilogram of nearly pure crystal meth was purchased from the defendants as part of the operation, authorities said, which stopped the importation of dozens of additional kilograms of the drug.

In addition to the arrests, federal authorities are seeking to seize and forfeit all proceeds of the alleged counterfeiting scheme and property used to commit the counterfeiting scheme, including automobiles, U.S. currency and other valuables and the home of one of the leaders of the counterfeiting ring.

“The cost of counterfeit goods is not limited to massive financial harm to American businesses and consumers,” said Fishman. “Criminals can exploit the same channels to import other material that threatens our health and safety. We remain dedicated, through global, inter-agency cooperation and long-term investigations like this one, to ensuring that criminals who see the ports as a gateway to America’s black market instead face American justice.”

“Thanks to the efforts of HSI and our law enforcement partners, we were able to take down a massive counterfeit smuggling enterprise – a scheme involving individuals who were stealing corporate identities and smuggling counterfeit merchandise out of China,” said Dinkins. “Had they not been caught, approximately $300 million worth of illicit goods would have been smuggled into our country. The enormity of this case – and the fact that we followed the investigative leads directly to the source in China, where so many counterfeit goods originate – is a stern warning to counterfeiters and smugglers everywhere. We are vigilantly watching our ports of entry for criminal activity that undermines legitimate commerce and potentially threatens the security of the United States.”

“CBP is on the front line of intellectual property rights enforcement, partnering with other federal agencies, industry and foreign governments to fight cross-border trade in counterfeit and pirated goods. We are proud to have been part of this important effort to safeguard our nation,” said Robert E. Perez, CBP Director, New York Field Operations.

The charges are merely accusations; the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

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