Federal prosecutors arrested two men on Wednesday and seized more than 200,000 counterfeit handbags, clothes, and other luxury items worth $1.03bn, making it “the largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in US history”.
The indictments of Adama Sow and Abdulaj Jalloh were unsealed this week, revealing both men had been charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.
US attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that “the defendants used a Manhattan storage facility as a distribution center for massive amounts of knock-off designer goods. The seizures announced today consist of merchandise with over a billion dollars in estimated retail value, the largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in US history”.
From Queens and Manhattan, New York, respectively, Sow, 38, and Jalloh, 48, are each facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Sow and Jalloh’s “large-scale goods trafficking operations” took place out of a storage facility in Manhattan, while Jalloh also trafficked through an offsite location also in Manhattan. Seizure of the storage unit resulted in 83,000 items valued at over $502m being taken while Jalloh’s offsite resulted in the seizure of “over 50,000 counterfeit items” valued at over $237m.
Photos of the spaces, shared alongside Williams’ statement, depicted a plethora of bags, clothing, and more in either boxes or even seen strewn over ceiling pipes.
Ivan Arvelo, special agent in charge of homeland security investigations praised the findings in a statement, claiming it “underscores the unwavering commitment of HSI New York in the fight against intellectual property theft and serves as a testament to the dedication of our team and partner agencies, who have tirelessly pursued justice, culminating in the largest-ever seizure of this kind”.
It’s illegal in the US to purchase counterfeit goods or bring them into the country. US customs and border control says doing so “could result in civil or criminal penalties and purchasing counterfeit goods often supports criminal activities, such as forced labor or human trafficking”.