Two Los Angeles-based counterfeit dealers were sentenced to prison this week. Kevin "Peter" Wang was sentenced this past week to 31 months in federal prison for his scheme to import more than $2.3 million worth of counterfeit goods. According to U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt's ruling, Wang, 54, assisted Chinese exporters in smuggling counterfeit Coach, Gucci and Louis Vuitton accessories, as well as Nike sneakers over a four year period beginning in 2008. Wang was caught receiving items, intentionally mislabeled as "garment hangers" and "toilet paper", in 11 containers through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In addition to the two plus years of jail time, Wang will serve an additional six months of home detention and pay a fine and restitution totaling $60,000. Similarly, 37-year-old Hamlet Ayvazyan was sentenced late last month to one year and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine for smuggling in counterfeit Mercedes AMG-brand wheel rims from China to his business, Speedvision Motorsport in Glendale, California. In January 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials discovered Ayvazyan's import container with 430 wheels with fake "AMG" logos. A month later, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found thousands of adhesive logos and wheel caps with replica Mercedes and BMW labels.
The ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach are popular sites for counterfeit trafficking. You may recall that in 2012, over 20,000 pairs of counterfeit Christian Louboutin shoes were confiscated from these points of entry. Last year, $14 million worth of fake Hermès handbags were confiscated from these same ports. Claude Arnold, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge of the Ayvazyan investigation, noted that the trafficking of counterfeit merchandise is a multibillion-dollar global business, and with profits going to an array of establishments, including the furtherance of organized crime, some of which is tied to terrorism, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local prosecutors are working together to crack down on the importation of counterfeits.