Law enforcement officials have cracked a major luxury goods counterfeiting ring in New York and seized “piles” of fake high-end watches, handbags, wallets, and sunglasses, as well as videos, computer games, DVDs and CDs, with an estimated street value of $125 million, says the New York Post and Newsday. The ring operated in a labyrinth of tunnels beneath Broadway, between Canal and Howard streets, on the edge of Chinatown.
Among the prestigious brands being knocked off, say the reports, were Rolex, Movado, Gucci, Cartier, Tag Heuer, and Prada.
The May 8 raid occurred at a warehouse between Canal and Howard streets, on Broadway, on the edge of Chinatown.
The raid capped a three-month investigation. It started with a tip to the Staten Island police about peddlers taking the Staten Island ferry into Manhattan, Newsday reports. The Staten Island police controlled the investigation and raid, which involved a number of other police units, too, including those in Chinatown.
According to a spokesman for the Staten Island Intelligence Bureau, quoted by the Post, the ring had taken “immense security measures” to prevent entry. It took police “hours [to break] through heavy bolts, locks and gates” and then go through a maze of “secret tunnels and trapdoors.” Much of the fake goods were found in a large vault; the rest were in the tunnels.
Ten people (eight men and two women) were arrested and charged with first-degree trademark counterfeiting, a felony carrying up to 15 years in prison. However, according to Newsday, eight were released without bail, while the bail for the other two was set between $1,000 and $10,000.