A federal grand jury in Brooklyn on Tuesday indicted three individuals for trafficking in counterfeit fragrances and conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice.
This story first appeared in the March 24, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The three are Shaoxia Huang, Shaoxiong Zhou and Shaowu Zhou, all of China’s Guangdong Province. Huang and Shaoxiong Zhou were arrested in Las Vegas on March 2 and have been in custody since their arrest. The three are alleged to have imported more than 37,000 individual units of counterfeit cosmetic fragrances into the U.S.
According to the indictment, the acts that led to the conspiracy and trafficking counts began on Aug. 9 and continued until the day of the arrest.
The Justice Department said that the indictment is based on a belief that the counterfeit perfume was “manufactured in China and bore trademarks belonging to well-known fragrance brands and were packaged in a manner likely to be confused for genuine fragrances sold under these well-known brands.”
The brands were not identified in the Justice Department statement or in the indictment.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years imprisonment on the counterfeit products charge. Each also faces fines of up to nearly $2.3 million. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of profits from illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods as well as the seizure of the goods.
Neither Bret Whipple, an attorney in Las Vegas representing Shaoxia Huang, nor Lloyd Epstein, an attorney at Epstein & Weil in Manhattan representing Shaoxiong Zhou, returned calls requesting comment.
Although fragrances are said to be the most frequently counterfeited beauty products, other categories are also being intercepted. On Feb. 23, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that its import specialists and officers at Los Angeles International Airport discovered and confiscated five parcels containing counterfeit MAC Cosmetics and Estée Lauder makeup brushes with an aggregate value of $112,500, based on the estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price.