Third Time’s the Charm

The  LAPD  teamed  up  with  the  FBI  and  HSI’s  Trade  Fraud  Group  to  take  down  a  major  distributor  of  counterfeit  goods  in  the  Southern  California  area.  The  agencies  took  the  subject  down  in  early  April  of  this  year  and  recovered  almost  $1,000,000.00  worth  of  counterfeit  handbags,  wallets,  shoes,  sunglasses  and  other  items.

The  subject  was  no  stranger  to  the  counterfeit  game  as  this  was  his  third  arrest!  Well,  the  judge  handling  his  new  case  was  not  too  happy  about  the  subject’s  repeated  bad  behavior.

Based  on  the  great  investigation  conducted  by  law  enforcement  and  the  LA  County  District  Attorney’s,  the  subject  had  no  choice  but  to  plead  guilty  to  the  charges.  He  was  promptly  sentenced  to  prison!

This  case  is  another  great  example  of  how  agencies  can  work  together  and  achieve  a  great  result!  Trademark  Counterfeiting  and  Piracy  are  a  large  part  of  the  Underground  Economy  and  are  leading  to  the  Economic  Undermining  of  America.

Do  your  part  and  buy  the  real  deal  and  support  Creation  &  Innovation.

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The Facts of IP Crimes

The Facts of IP Crimes

Kris Buckner, Investigative Consultants
The facts about Intellectual Property Crimes (IP Crimes) are really simple. IP Crimes, including trademark counterfeiting and piracy are an ever growing problem that endanger the foundation of our world and local economies. Not to mention that these crimes provide an easy source of revenue for gang members, organized crime groups, and even terrorist organizations. All of us and our communities are the victims in these types of crimes.

There is nothing positive that comes from the sales of counterfeit or pirated merchandise. In fact, everything about these crimes is negative. The people involved in the manufacturing, distribution, and sales of counterfeit trademarked merchandise are stealing. There is no difference than going into a store and taking merchandise without paying for it. The taking of someone’s intellectual property is theft, plain and simple.

The owners and creators of Intellectual Property are creative and innovative people who have worked hard to develop and create a product to share with the world. These creative minds spend years and thousands of their hard earned dollars to create and make their dreams come true. Why should a counterfeiter be allowed to come along and steal what someone else worked so hard on to create? Trademark counterfeiting is theft!

Too many people look at counterfeiting as a victimless crime and have the mentality that it is ok because “no one is getting hurt.” People are getting hurt and people are dying from counterfeit goods every year. There are numerous cases involving counterfeit goods that have resulted in hundreds of deaths. During the investigations that Investigative Consultants has conducted over the past 15 years, we have seen some very serious cases.

Counterfeiters have been known to use child labor in their production of the counterfeit goods. There have been cases where the workers making the counterfeit goods have been locked inside of factories. If there were a fire, the workers would have no way of escaping. The disregard that counterfeiters and pirates have for human life is amazing. The only thing the counterfeiters care about is the money and nothing else.

Our economy suffers in many ways. We are losing billions of dollars a year in lost tax revenue. Most counterfeiters are not paying their fair share of taxes, if any at all. There have been numerous cases where counterfeiters claim they make $ 12,000 a year, however have millions of dollars a year going through their bank accounts. The math never adds up.

During an investigation of a “street vendor” in Los Angeles, who sold pirated music, law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the vendor’s home. Law enforcement located over $ 40,000 in cash and $ 700,000 in bank accounts, along with several thousand pirated music CDs. Law enforcement also learned that the subject owned the home, valued at $ 330,000 outright. The problem is the subject was also collecting public assistance and did not pay taxes.

There have been numerous cases, where hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash have been recovered from the subjects of a counterfeiting investigation, who claim that they were “barely surviving” or they were just trying to “feed their kids.” Do not believe the tall tales that counterfeiters tell of poverty and “just getting by.” The counterfeiters are not legitimately contributing to our economy or to our communities.
In many cases, counterfeiters and pirates are paying their employees “under the table” and do not provide benefits or pay into Social Security or Workers Compensation. Counterfeiters will argue that they are creating jobs. However, aren’t all employees entitled to the protections that the law provides? When these workers are working for counterfeiters, they are often subjected to poor and dangerous working conditions. Most of these criminal organizations care nothing for the well being of the people working for them and are only concerned with their employees making them money.

How can legitimate small business owners compete with the businesses in their area selling counterfeit goods?

COMPTON VARRIO 115 GANG MEMBER ARRESTED! WHERE IS YOUR MONEY GOING?

The Long Beach Police Department served a search warrant at a local business that was being operated by a Compton Varrio 155 gang member. This was not the first warrant that was served at this location, in fact it was the second warrant served for the sales of counterfeit goods. Officers arrested the owner of the location, along with a female employee for trademark counterfeiting. Officers recovered counterfeit shoes, watches, handbags, and clothing. Officers also recovered a stolen handgun.

Counterfeiting is becoming the crime of choice for street gangs. They can make more money selling the counterfeit goods than they can selling crack on the street corner and when they get caught, the punishment is not as severe. The outstanding efforts of the Long Beach PD are making it that much harder for these guys to make money. Crimes such as trademark counterfeiting, music piracy and other intellectual property crimes are growing every day. Criminal organizations are taking advantage of brand owners and stealing their intellectual property on a daily basis and using the proceeds for who knows what!

As responsible citizens we need to think about who we are supporting with our hard earned money. Is it worth saving a few bucks on a purse when the money is funding gangs and crime? What is your conscious worth to you?

OAKLAND HELL’S ANGELS TIED TO COUNTERFEIT PHARMACEUTICAL OPERATION

By SGT. Steve Opferman

A Los Angeles County task force took out a large scale pharmaceutical counterfeiting operation in Hayward, California. The counterfeiters used a legitimate vitamin factory to disguise their operation. The owner plead open to 2 felony counts of counterfeiting and 1 felony count of possession of controlled substances for sales. He received 5 years in state prison. His accomplice received felony probation, while another suspect passed away, prior to being convicted.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau HALT team (Health Authority Law Enforcement Task Force) is a multi-agency, multijurisdictional task force that deals with crimes that impact public health and safety. Investigating illegal distribution and diversion of pharmaceuticals, including counterfeits, is one of the teams many functions.

Detectives received information from an informant that an individual was selling large quantities of counterfeit steroid and Viagra tablets. In this case, the Viagra tablets were white, instead of blue, since the counterfeiters had not yet perfected a color coating method for the pills. A meeting was arraigned with undercover detectives at an upscale Santa Monica hotel room for a “buybust” operation. A lone suspect appeared with steroid and Viagra tablet samples and offered to sell detectives a suitcase full of the product for $250,000.00. After a cash flash, the suspect agreed to the deal and was arrested shortly thereafter.

Upon further investigation, detectives learned that the suspect in custody was responsible for transporting active pharmaceutical ingredients, “Sildenifil Citrate” and “Anadrol” from a Tijuana, Mexico “Pharmacia” placed in “Met-Rx” and other body building protein powder containers. The active ingredients were shipped from India to Mexico. The suspect would take the active ingredients to a vitamin factory in Hayward, CA., which was operated by the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angels where they were compounded and pressed into pills.

A search warrant was written for the vitamin factory and a great deal of evidence was seized. This included machined metal dies to stamp out the counterfeit tablets, all of the ingredients, counterfeit labels and packaging materials. Also discovered was dies to manufacture ecstasy tablets. It was learned that the vitamin factory had previously manufactured large quantities of ecstasy, but discontinued for fear of getting caught. The operation switched to pharmaceuticals, knowing that it carries more lenient sentencing if caught.

The suspects in this investigation were prosecuted in Los Angeles. One prominent Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club member that was implicated, fled to Arizona and passed away, prior to being convicted.

Another ATC Gang Member is Arrested for Piracy

The LAPD’s Piracy Unit has once again wrapped up another Alley Tiny Criminals (ATC) gang member on piracy charges. The subject, who was involved in manufacturing and distribution of pirated software is admitted member of the Alley Tiny Criminals gang.

The gangster was burning pirated software on his home computer and offering the software for sale on craigslist.org. This is the second time in the past six months that the LAPD’s Piracy Unit has arrested an ATC gang member for selling pirated software through craigslist. They arrested the latest gang member just a few blocks from where the first ATC gang member was arrested.

Piracy and counterfeiting is becoming a growing trend amongst gangsters, turning away from selling drugs and guns for the “safer” and more profitable crimes, like counterfeiting or piracy.

The gang member admitted to detectives that he was making over $5,000 cash a month selling the pirated software. Not a bad business for this gang banger! I wonder if he was paying taxes on that money? It appears that the ATC gang has realized that the sales of counterfeit and pirated merchandise is a very lucrative business for the gang. Great work again by the Piracy Unit going after these gangsters!

Think piracy is a harmless crime? Think again!