The LAPD’s Central Vice Unit just completed a massive counterfeiting case that lead to the recovery of over 1.5 million dollars in counterfeit goods and the seizure of $ 40,000 in cash and three felony arrests. The Unit did a great job identifying a subject and his team who were operating a small retail store in the infamous Santee Alley area of Downtown Los Angeles distributing counterfeit luxury goods.
It turns out that the primary subject has a very long history of selling fakes and has been arrested multiple times in the past. The subject also placed a $10,000 “bounty” on the head of an Investigator in the past. The Unit made undercover buys from the subject’s retail location and received additional information that the subject also had a warehouse nearby. The LAPD conducted surveillance and additional purchases. Through their great work, they were able to identify the warehouse where it was believed a large amount of counterfeits were being stored. It is extremely common now that counterfeiters will not keep all their counterfeit merchandise in their stores.
The counterfeiters keep a minimal amount of counterfeit on hand and keep most of their stock in warehouses or vehicles that are generally located near their retail locations. Counterfeiters have learned from all their past mistakes and are now working hard to stay off the radar of law enforcement or to make law enforcement think their operations are smaller than they truly are.
When have seen cases that on the surface you would think are very small time operations, however those cases have lead to multiple million dollar recoveries. You really never know what you are going to ‘stumble” into when it comes to intellectual property cases and investigations.
The Central Vice Unit secured a search warrant for the retail location and the warehouse. When the warrant was served, they nabbed all three of their subjects and surprisingly located $ 40,000.00 in cash from the retail store. The main subject’s wife said that the $ 40,000.00 cash was from two days worth of business!!!! WOW….
I am sure if the IRS were to review their tax returns, they would learn that the subjects are likely claiming that they are making under $ 40,000.00 in a year. It’s very common for the subjects involved in counterfeiting & piracy to not pay their fair share of taxes. When the Vice Unit cracked the door to the warehouse, they were pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of counterfeit handbags, wallets, belts and other items they found. Their hard work and dedication paid off big!
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By Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants