When Officers from the LAPD’s Central Division arranged to conduct a counterfeiting taskforce action near Santee Alley recently, they came across something very strange and more than they bargained for. Officers targeted several locations that were involved in the sales and distribution of counterfeit handbags, wallets, sunglasses, and other accessory items during their taskforce efforts. Officers entered one of the locations and located a “Voodoo” type shrine hidden near the rear of the location. Inside the shrine were toy police cars, a toy police helicopter, handcuffs, a bear trap, feathers, a machete, and a vile of what appeared to be blood. The shrine was surrounded by candles and bottles of liquor.
It appeared that the shrine was in some way meant to keep law enforcement away from the location, so the counterfeiters could sell their wares without fear of being arrested. The owner of the shrine and the other people involved, all appeared to be from the West African nation of Gambia. Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and is surrounded by the country of Senegal. The LAPD arrested three subjects during the investigation. The subjects arrested had all been involved in the sales of counterfeit goods in the past and are part of a larger organization of counterfeiters that distribute large quantities of counterfeit goods. The LAPD located records indicating that the subjects obtained their counterfeit merchandise from various sources in New York. The group would then sell the goods locally in Los Angeles; however, they were also shipping large quantities of counterfeit goods to Nevada, Georgia, Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina via UPS. LAPD also located several letters that appeared to have been written by an employee of the location, who was an 18th Street Gang member and used the moniker “Sniper” to another 18th Street gang member that was in prison. All in all, if you sell counterfeit, you will go to jail.