TORRANCE PD TAKES DOWN A “KINGPIN”

The Torrance Police Department took down a major distributor who has been in business for several years. The subject has been arrested in the past for the sales of counterfeit goods and also for attempting to bribe a police officer to make a case “go away” that involved his wife and her sale of counterfeit goods.

The subject operated his organization in a very smart way. He would never deal with any customers directly if he did not know them. He only dealt with people that he had known for years and believed he could trust.

It seemed for a while that he was always one step ahead of the law. A couple of months ago, The LA County Sheriff’s Department was two days away from serving a warrant at the subject’s warehouse and locking him up when they learned he had cleaned his warehouse out. We then went back to work in an attempt to identify his new warehouse. It took us a while, but we eventually located his new warehouse. The subject had moved his operation to a Public Storage facility.

As we were completing our investigation, we learned that the Torrance Police Department had arrested a vendor selling counterfeit goods. The handling officer did a great job in “flipping” the arrestee. The arrestee agreed to lead the Torrance PD to his source. Guess who the source was? Yes!!! It was the subject we were looking for.

The Torrance PD hooked up with The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – COPS Bureau and HSI’s Intellectual Property Rights Group. They combined forces to take the subject down and they did just that. They obtained and served a search warrant at his storage facility where he was arrested.

Law enforcement’s efforts led to the recovery of over half a million dollars in counterfeit goods. This is a great example of outstanding police work by all the agencies involved.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

A CASE OF COUNTERFEIT AND STOLEN MERCHANDISE

Cargo thefts are on the rise and companies are doing their best to stay afloat as these thieves constantly prey upon them. A premium brand denim company has been striking back and aggressively investigating the thefts that they have been victims of. What we learned in a recent case was that counterfeiters and thieves are working hand in hand in their efforts to make easy money.

A subject operating a warehouse near the Downtown Los Angeles area was recently arrested as part of an undercover sting operation. Investigators learned from a source on the East Coast that the subject was offering “hot” jeans and looking for serious buyers that would buy in bulk. The investigation heated up at that point and undercover investigators were assigned to determine what the subject was up to. Investigators were able to make purchases from the subject’s warehouse and the victim denim company was able to confirm that some of the items purchased were recently stolen. It was key that the company could clearly show that the items purchased from the subject had positively come from a stolen load.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, COPS Bureau jumped into the investigation. The Sheriff’s Department compiled all the evidence and information. A search warrant was obtained for the subject’s warehouse. The Sheriff’s Department teamed up with ICE’s Intellectual Property Rights Group to serve the warrant. They served the warrant and arrested the subject and three other subjects for multiple crimes.

Law enforcement recovered just under $ 200,000 worth of stolen merchandise, along with several hundred counterfeit items. Items recovered by law enforcement were collected before they were able to be officially reported stolen. Recently we have been seeing more and more cases where counterfeiters are also dealing in stolen goods.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

RIVERSIDE COUNTY DA INVESTIGATORS SEIZE OVER 2.1 MILLION

The Riverside County DA’s Office recently wrapped up a nearly six month long investigation that led to the recovery of over 2.1 million dollars worth of counterfeit merchandise and the arrest of a major supplier of counterfeit goods, who has been in the counterfeit business for nearly 20 years.

The case started when Investigators arrested a subject in Riverside County selling counterfeit merchandise. The Investigators working the case were able to flip the subject, who agreed to identify his supplier. Investigators built up the case and were able to insert undercover investigators to make direct purchases from the supplier. The Investigators conducted a “text book” investigation that led them from the little fish to a whale.

The Investigators made multiple purchases from the subject, from his large multi-story warehouse in Downtown Los Angeles. The Investigators were amazed by the quantity of counterfeit merchandise that the subject was offering to sell. The Investigators used the information and evidence to obtain a search warrant for his warehouse.

The Riverside County DA’s Office reached out to the LAPD’s Piracy Unit for assistance with the warrant service, so the two agencies teamed up and served the warrant together. Investigators were able to take the subject into custody, after a search was conducted on the warehouse. The search yielded over 2.1 million dollars in all types of counterfeit merchandise.

The Riverside County DA’s Office has been proactively investigating and prosecuting counterfeiting cases for the past several years and their sustained efforts have really paid off! The subject has now been charged in Los Angeles County with multiple felony counts of trademark counterfeiting. This case is a perfect example of following a case up the food chain.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

TRAFFIC STOP LEADS TO MAJOR FIND

When an Officer of The LAPD’s Central Division decided to pull over a white cargo van for a simple traffic violation, he had no idea what he was in for. The Officer pulled over the van with paper plates, only to learn that the original license plates were on the vehicle, however they had been covered by “paper plates.” See the enclosed photographs.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Officer contacted the two females, who are sisters inside the van and during the investigation, he learned that the van was full of counterfeit merchandise. The Officer then located over a half million dollars worth of counterfeit merchandise, along with over $23,000.00 in cash and money orders. Who says counterfeiting does not pay? Soon after the Officer arrested the two sisters.

What the Officer did not realize was that he had just broken up part of a major counterfeiting organization. The two sisters are part of a major family operated organization that has been involved in the sales and distribution of counterfeit goods for over 10 years. The husband of one of the women, has been arrested in the past for various serious crimes, including the sales of counterfeit goods and has suspected ties to an Organized Crime group based on the East coast. The sister’s father and other family members also have a history of being involved with the sales of counterfeit goods. The “family” operates several retail locations in Los Angeles and also distributes counterfeit goods to other vendors throughout California. During the inventory of the evidence in the van, Officers also located a list of license plate numbers and descriptions of several vehicles used by Investigators that investigate the sales of counterfeit goods. This group is very organized and entrenched in the counterfeit world. The Officer of the LAPD’s keen eye just cost their organization tens of thousands of dollars and clearly caused a major disruption in their operation. Job well done!!

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

ESCONDIDO BUY BUSTS LEAD TO GREAT RESULTS

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Investigators identified multiple subjects who were selling counterfeit goods in and around the Escondido, California area. Investigators contacted Escondido Police Department Detectives, who quickly jumped on the cases and wanted to take immediate action. The Escondido Detectives arranged to take action on two subjects and coordinated buy bust operations.

The first subject was selling counterfeit EFX bracelets. The subject would travel around and distribute the items and was also selling from multiple kiosks at local malls. During the course of the undercover investigation, the subject admitted that the bracelets were counterfeits.

The subject agreed to sell the undercover a large amount of the bracelets, so the bust was arranged. The subject agreed to meet the undercover in a business parking lot in Escondido and when he did, Escondido’s finest took him down. Detectives seized all the counterfeit items and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has filed felony charges against the subject.

The second subject was selling counterfeit watches through Craigslist.org. The subject bragged about how many watches he had sold and how much money he had made. Well, it looks like his luck ran out when Escondido Detectives got onto the case, because as soon as they heard about it, the clock started ticking.

Detectives arranged for the subject to deliver counterfeit watches to the local Target parking lot. Once again, when the subject showed up in his shiny Mercedes, Detectives swooped in and hooked the subject up. The Escondido Detectives took quick and decisive action that led to two felony arrests and two counterfeiters out of business. We want to applaud the quick and efficient work of the Escondido PD!

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

COUNTERFEIT CASE LEADS TO FEDERAL FUGITIVE

You never really know who you are going to come across when you jump into a counterfeiting case. The LAPD’s Piracy Unit recently learned that, AGAIN. The LAPD had been conducting an extensive investigation of a subject in Los Angeles that was involved with the manufacturing and distribution of counterfeit merchandise.

The female subject, who was unable to be identified during the course of the investigation, was operating a warehouse where she was manufacturing and distributing large quantities of counterfeit goods. She also operated a small retail store in the same building where she would meet her customers, before taking them to her warehouse and manufacturing facility.

The subject seemed like any other counterfeiter that we come across on a daily basis. The LAPD obtained a warrant for the location and served it. They arrested the subject and took down her elaborate manufacturing and distribution operation. The LAPD recovered over $300,000 in counterfeit merchandise and large amounts of manufacturing equipment and materials.

Detectives booked the subject on felony counterfeiting charges, only to learn a short time later that the name and information she had given was completely false. Detectives were contacted by the US Marshal’s Service regarding the subject and advised that the subject had been a federal fugitive for several years. It turned out that the subject was wanted for laundering money for a Columbian drug cartel. Another perfect example of how what you think is a “little fish” can really turn out to be a great catch!

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants

SILKSCREEN FACTORY SHUT DOWN

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, COPS Bureau, The LAPD and Agents from HSI’s (Homeland Security Investigations) Intellectual Property Rights Group, previously recognized as ICE or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, teamed up to take down a silk screening factory that had been long suspected of manufacturing counterfeit merchandise.

The factory was owned and operated by a very street savvy subject that has been known to be involved in the counterfeit game for over 15 years. The subject operated his factory in the Downtown Los Angeles area, just outside the notorious Santee Alley. Investigators have been trying to get evidence on the subject for years, however he was always one step ahead.

Finally, an undercover investigator gained his trust and the subject sold the Investigator counterfeit merchandise. The Investigator conducted multiple purchases from the subject and was also able to observe the subject using his equipment at the location to make the items.

The information about the factory was given to law enforcement and they immediately obtained a search warrant for the location and an arrest warrant for the owner. LASD, LAPD and HSI served the warrant at the location and arrested the subject on felony charges. Law enforcement found evidence that indicated the subject had been involved with the large scale manufacturing of counterfeit goods.

Law enforcement seized various completed counterfeit items, silk-screens and all the equipment that was used to manufacture the counterfeit goods. Our hats are off to the agencies that worked together on this case to make a difference in combating IP Crime.

We have seen a huge increase in the number of cases in Southern California that local law enforcement has been working with HSI’s Intellectual Property Rights Group and HSI’s Trade Fraud Group. Both groups are based in Long Beach, CA and have proven to be vital partners to local law enforcement and private industry to truly address the growing problem of trademark counterfeiting.

By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants