Federal authorities in New York announced that they have seized the largest-ever haul of counterfeit goods in US history, which consists of shoes, handbags and other luxury items valued at more than $1bn.
Adama Sow, 38, and Abdulai Jalloh, 48 have been charged with trafficking the counterfeits from a storage unit in New York City to other locations. The duo reportedly operated primarily between January and October, according to the US Attorney's Office.
Photos of the seized goods show the merchandise filling warehouse shelves. There were enough handbags recovered to stack from floor to ceiling. Prosecutors estimate that the seized assets represent approximately 219,000 counterfeit items.
US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the seizure was the largest that had ever occurred in US history.
“The seizures announced today consist of merchandise with over a billion dollars in estimated retail value, the largest-ever seizure of counterfeit goods in U.S. history,” he said. “This is a testament to the commitment of this Office and its law enforcement partners to combat counterfeit trafficking in New York City.”
NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban praised the bust and argued that goods counterfeiting harms businesses that sell the genuine versions of the knock-offs.
“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime because it harms legitimate businesses, governments, and consumers,” he said. “Today’s indictments show how seriously the NYPD and our federal partners take this offense. And we will continue to work hard to hold accountable anyone who seeks to benefit by selling such items on the black market.”
Mr Sow's bond was set at $1m, and Mr Jalloh's bond was set at $500,000, according to CNN.
The two individuals charged could face up to 10 years in prison if they are convicted.
"Today's groundbreaking announcement underscores the unwavering commitment of HSI New York in the fight against intellectual property theft and serves as a testament to the dedication of our team and partner agencies, who have tirelessly pursued justice, culminating in the largest-ever seizure of this kind," Special Agent in Charge Ivan Arvelo of Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement.