Five Men Charged With Stealing $5.6 Million In Counterfeit Handbags From Edison Warehouse

TRENTON – A state grand jury indicted five men who allegedly stole a trailer load of $5.6 million in counterfeit Coach handbags from an Edison warehouse last October, Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced today.

The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment charging five men with the theft of about 16,000 counterfeit Coach handbags from a freight trailer that was parked at a warehouse facility on Saw Mill Pond Road in Edison. The defendants are Hamadou H. Kallam, 28, of New York, N.Y.; Alkassom I. Daouda, 35, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Mohamed A. Kanu, 32, of Bronx, N.Y.; Abdoul S. Zakari-Manadou, 29, of Gaithersburg, Md., and Jose I. Mercado, 38, of Paterson.

The defendants allegedly broke into the trailer containing the handbags on Oct. 30, 2011. Detectives of the New Jersey State Police Cargo Theft Unit and special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had the site under surveillance in connection with their investigation of an alleged theft ring that targeted counterfeit designer merchandise.

Kanu, Zakari-Manadou and Mercado were allegedly unloading handbags from the trailer into a rental truck when they were arrested. Daouda and Kallam were arrested as they arrived at the site, Daouda in another rental truck and Kallam in a Mercedes. Earlier, Kallam, the alleged ringleader, allegedly cut a lock on a chain link fence protecting the lot.

Each of the five defendants was charged with conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking, and possession of counterfeit merchandise with intent to distribute, all in the second degree, and third-degree burglary.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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