Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Los Angeles Port Police Shutter Alleged Counterfeit Ring

Los Angeles Port Police on Monday announced the recovery of more than $10 million in counterfeit electronics, stolen merchandise and bank receipts as part of cargo theft investigation.

The investigation resulted in the closure of a downtown Los Angeles counterfeiting operation and felony charges filed against two suspects.

The recovered goods included fake Apple products resembling iPods and IPhones, which authorities allege were shipped from Asia and falsely labeled and packaged in Los Angeles. Part of the haul included $2.5 million in stolen goods such as electronics, toys and blankets taken from various locations in Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

“Our standing as the largest shipping container port in the country is in no small part predicated on the security we can offer our clients,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “Counterfeiting takes jobs and revenue away from our city’s coveted creative industries and other legitimate businesses and it will not be tolerated.”

The investigation was part of a multi-agency Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP), a California Highway Patrol initiative that includes participation from Los Angeles Port Police and the City of Vernon Police Department. Also participating in the investigation were members of Homeland Security Investigations and the Border Enforcement Security Taskforce.

Los Angeles Port Police Chief Ronald Boyd praised the layered, multi-agency approach for the success of the investigation.

The investigation led Los Angeles Port Police to several downtown Los Angeles locations in December and January. During searches of the locations, Port Police uncovered counterfeit goods worth more than $1.4 million on the street, the $2.5 million worth of stolen goods and bank receipts indicating profits from the sale of more than $7 million worth of counterfeit goods.

Two brothers, both from Los Angeles, have been charged in the case. Edward Zahab, 40, was charged with three felony counts of sale of counterfeit goods and Bahram Zahab, 45, was charged with one felony count of sale of counterfeit goods.