Federal authorities in New Jersey said five people associated with one of the largest counterfeit goods smuggling operations in history have pleaded guilty.
The five were among 29 people charged in the $325 million counterfeit ring taken down and revealed by federal officials in March 2012. The operation involved counterfeit smuggling and sales of well-known apparel and accessories brands, as well as large amounts of contraband drugs, authorities said in indictments and three criminal complaints at the time.
Yi Jian Chen, 53, and Hui Huang, 33, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ning Guo, 40, of China, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods Friday before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in federal court in Newark. Guo also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering conspiracy.
Two others — Jian Zhi Mo, 45, of Flushing, N.Y., and Yuan Feng Lai, 28, of New York City — pleaded guilty Aug. 12 to one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods.
The five defendants ran an international counterfeit goods smuggling and distribution conspiracy from August 2008 through February 2012, according to court documents. Their part in the operation involved illegally importing more than 35 containers of counterfeit goods, primarily bogus handbags, sneakers and cigarettes, to the U.S. from China, authorities said. The retail value was estimated at $47 million. Among the goods seized at the time were counterfeit Ugg and Timberland boots, Nike sneakers, Burberry scarves, Gucci handbags, Lacoste shirts, Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags and Polo sweatshirts.
According to court documents, the conspirators sought help and unknowingly agreed to use a corporation that was actually a front company set up by law enforcement to import the goods through Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal. They then used fraudulent customs paperwork, falsely declaring the goods within the containers. Authorities said several undercover special agents were introduced to the conspirators, who paid the agents more than $900,000 for “services” to help move the cargo through the port.
Each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine on the conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods charge. Guo faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or “twice the gain or loss caused be the offense” for the money laundering charge. All five defendants are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 25.
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.