How everyday storage spaces allow luxury counterfeiters to hide in plain sight

The Department of Homeland Security and the New York police recently carried out the world’s largest bust of counterfeit goods, and experts told The Post they likely came from China.

Fake bags, shoes and clothing, made to imitate brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Hermès, were confiscated at a Gotham Mini Storage facility in Manhattan. In total, the estimated 219,000 knockoff luxury goods would be worth $1 billion if the products were legitimate.

“It seems like a professional operation,” Dan Harris, a Seattle-based attorney who runs China Law Blog, told The Post. “There is a 99.5% chance that it originated in China. they would not do [the seized goods] in such quantities in Vietnam or Cambodia.”

The suspects, Abdulai Jalloh and Adama Sow, were separately charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods. Jalloh is free on $500,000 bail and is wearing an ankle bracelet, while Sow was released on $1 million bail. His lawyers did not want to comment beyond that.

A wide variety of bags, shoes and clothing from brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci were found in the storage unit, which was lined with shelves and hangers. US Attorney’s Office/Mega

Still, they may not be at the top of the food chain. “Do you really think those two idiots had the capital to get all that stuff?” said Bill Ryan, a former NYPD detective who specialized in stopping counterfeiters and now runs the Ryan Investigative Group, which consults with companies to prevent them from being taken down.

“Are they just the ones who got caught? Their bosses could easily be guys from China,” Ryan told The Post. “When it comes to counterfeit products, all roads lead to China.”

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According to DHS, Jalloh and Sow’s illicit sales operations had been going on since January.

In total, some 219,000 pieces of fake luxury goods were confiscated. Federal Prosecutor’s Office/Mega

An HSI spokesperson told The Post that “criminals are increasingly breaking down large shipments into smaller sizes to limit the risk associated with having one of their shipments seized.”

But while counterfeit operators may have discovered a way to protect themselves, that doesn’t save them from the competition.

“Selling counterfeits is an extremely secretive and clandestine business,” Ryan said. “People snitch on their competitors. Generally speaking, [law enforcers] You put together cases with people who give you bits of information that you keep putting together.”

The raid took place at Gotham Mini Storage, an 84,000-square-foot Hell’s Kitchen storage facility with spaces up to 20 by 80 feet (costing nearly $5,700 per month).

The assets were seized at Gotham Mini Storage in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Google Maps

Equipped with shelves and hangers, Jalloh and Sow storage units look like authentic stores.

“The variety is impressive,” Harris said. “It seems like they have better options than Saks Fifth Avenue.”

Ryan agrees and is not surprised.

According to him, warehouse spaces like these, which are spread across the country, are ideal for dishonest retailers.

Former NYPD Detective Bill Ryan said that in his experience, “all roads lead to China” when it comes to counterfeit

“Criminals get spaces at a low price and there are loading docks and hand trucks in the places. They do not attract attention and the storage spaces are large enough to house a car. And you can rent more than one, configuring each one for specific types of products,” Ryan explained. “I’ve seen [counterfeit retailers] Rent eight storage rooms at a time and use different ones for sneakers, bags, coats and shirts. “It is not uncommon for counterfeiters to ship product from China directly to storage facilities.”

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He is also not surprised by the timing of the raid.

“There is always a big hit before Thanksgiving when people start shopping. And another before Christmas, when they finish their shopping,” Ryan added. “Authorities are singling out retailers and potential customers.”

Ivan J. Arvel, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, told The Post: “While a handbag may seem harmless, the production and sale of imitation products is far from an open crime. victims…Counterfeit products can pose a litany of problems, including through the use of unapproved dyes, materials that are not fire safe or those with the presence of heavy metals.”

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