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Pics: $1 billion in fake goods seized in largest US bust ever

NYPD. (Bernhard Richter/Dreamstime/TNS)
November 16, 2023

Homeland Security Investigation agents and the New York Police Department seized roughly 219,000 counterfeit goods valued at over $1.03 billion in Manhattan, New York, on Wednesday.

According to a Wednesday press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, authorities raided a storage facility in Manhattan and confiscated approximately 219,000 counterfeit clothes, shoes, bags, and other high-end products.

In addition to the confiscation of the counterfeit products, authorities arrested 38-year-old Adama Sow and 48-year-old Abdulai Jalloh Wednesday in relation to the counterfeit operation. Based on indictment documents released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the two men, who operated out of the storage facility in Manhattan from January through October, have been charged with trafficking counterfeit goods and could face up to 10 years in prison.

In Wednesday’s press release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams noted that the confiscation of counterfeit goods in Manhattan was the largest seizure operation of counterfeit goods in the history of the United States.

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“As alleged, the defendants used a Manhattan storage facility as a distribution center for massive amounts of knock-off designer goods,” Williams said. “The seizures announced today consist of merchandise with over a billion dollars in estimated retail value, the largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in U.S. history. This is a testament to the commitment of this Office and its law enforcement partners to combat counterfeit trafficking in New York City.”  

U.S. Attorney’s Office photos reveal a storage facility with massive quantities of counterfeit products stuffed onto shelves and lining the floor. The photos show a room overflowing with huge amounts of fake designer bags, with some even hanging from the building’s indoor pipes. Another photo released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office shows a storage area containing dozens of pallets of sealed boxes.

“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime because it harms legitimate businesses, governments, and consumers,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said. “Today’s indictments show how seriously the NYPD and our federal partners take this offense. And we will continue to work hard to hold accountable anyone who seeks to benefit by selling such items on the black market.”