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Feds Stuff Scheme to Counterfeit $70 Million in Air Jordans

Five residents of Queens, N.Y., have been charged with conspiring to traffic in more than $70 million worth of counterfeit Nike Air Jordan sneakers.

Miyuki Suen, Jian Min Huang, Songhua Qu, Kin Lui Chen and Fangrang Qu were arrested following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit. The investigation, worked by HSI special agents and task force members from the New York City Police Department and U.S. Customs & Border Protection resulted in the five being charged with importing hundreds of thousands of sneakers from China into the U.S.

Once they arrived, the defendants and other co-conspirators put counterfeit Nike trademarked logos on them in New York, and sold the counterfeit Air Jordans in the U.S.

“These five individuals are alleged to have been a part of a large scale counterfeiting scheme, importing nearly a half million pairs of knock-off Nike sneakers,” Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge for HSI New York, said. “These counterfeiting networks can be both detrimental to our economy and threaten our national security, and HSI will continue to take every measure in investigating and dismantling these organizations.”

Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “I commend our law enforcement partners for helping to bring today’s charges, which send a clear message to would-be counterfeiters: ‘Just don’t do it.’”

As alleged in the complaint, from around January 2016 to last month, the defendants imported at least 42 shipping containers holding an estimated 380,000 pairs of sneakers from China. These sneakers were manufactured to resemble Nike Air Jordans and were later housed in multiple storage units and warehouses in New York City and elsewhere.

On Tuesday, search warrants in hand, federal law enforcement agents conducted searches of a warehouse, storage units and a residence related to this scheme, and found thousands of counterfeit shoes, counterfeit trademarks and machinery to finish counterfeit shoes.

The five are each charged with one count of conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods. Each defendant faces a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison. The case is being handled by the Southern District of New York’s General Crimes Unit.