Counterfeit clothing ring busted
Federal authorities last week arrested six people, including a California freight forwarder, on federal conspiracy and money laundering charges related to the importation of counterfeit clothing.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Sam Wang, Hussein Nasser, Hussein Chahine, Hassan Chahine, Ali Fayad Nasser, and Colin Tsai were arrested Wednesday and Thursday in operations that included agents from the FBI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The six are accused of importing into the United States and selling nearly $20 million worth of Chinese-manufactured apparel and apparel items bearing various urban and hip-hop-style designer labels.
Law enforcement sources told said U.S. antiterrorism officials are investigating possibilities that the money derived from the operation may have been sent abroad to finance terrorist operations in the Middle East.
According to court filings, Wang was responsible for the manufacture of the goods and arranged importation of the clothing into the United States through Los Angeles-based freight forwarder Tsai. Once transshipped to New York, the goods were sold to wholesale and retail customers through Hussein Nasser, owner and operator of three Manhattan clothing stores — Crown Ambassador Trading Co., Jeanius and Sweat-N-Tee.
The court documents said that $19.7 million worth of the fake clothing — imitations of designer brands Akademiks, RocaWear, Bathing Ape and Evisu — was imported by Wang from August 2003 to November 2006, though he continued to ship counterfeit clothing until as recently as October of this year. The investigation was carried out through wiretaps and e-mail surveillance.
Wang was arrested by agents in Queens, N.Y.; Tsai in California; and the others at a residence in North Bergen, N.J.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Tsai, a resident of Los Angeles suburb Covina, was released from custody late last week after posting $500,000 in bail.