WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Monday sentenced one of the men behind one of the largest counterfeit-goods smuggling operations in history to 46 months in prison.
U.S. District Judge Esther Salas sentenced Ming Zheng, aka “Uncle Mi,” 48, of New York, for conspiracy to launder money stemming from his participation in a $325 million counterfeit ring that was taken down by federal officials in March 2012. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the sentencing on Tuesday.
Federal authorities ultimately charged 29 people for their participation in the counterfeit operation that involved smuggling and sales of well-known apparel and accessories brands, such as Ugg and Timberland boots, Nike sneakers, Burberry scarves, Gucci handbags, Lacoste shirts, Coach and Louis Vuitton handbags and Polo sweatshirts, revealed in indictments and three criminal complaints in 2012. In August, five of those charged pled guilty in the same court in Newark, N.J.
Zheng and several codefendants were charged for conspiring to import hundreds of containers of counterfeit goods — primarily handbags, footwear and perfume — from China into the U.S. from November 2009 to February 2012. Authorities said Zheng “was instrumental in multiple money-laundering transactions,” receiving cash from others involved in the counterfeit ring and transferring it overseas to be illegally laundered.