No matter what the fiscal climate is, black marketers are always, well, in the black.
That is, until they’re caught.
Two Bensonhurst illegal toy gun runners and alleged purveyors of black and gray market items were seeing red last week when investigators raided their East New York warehouse, seizing thousands of dollars in property.
Prosecutors alleged that suspects Fu Xian Bao, 48, and Xiao Ping Luo, 41, both of 2145 74th Street, could face 15 years in prison for being the underground supplier of illegal and possibly deadly products — a business that earned them $100,000 per month.
Over $1.4 million in retail items, allegedly shipped to Bao and Luo from China, have been recovered during three raids, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes said as he announced the arrests Thursday at the East New York warehouse that was ground zero for the operation.
Since July 2008, Hynes’ investigators learned that Ya Mei Trading was allegedly handling large amounts of illegal merchandise.
Undercover operatives immediately began an investigation into the matter, purchasing counterfeit New York Yankee caps, counterfeit Disney products, counterfeit Spiderman products and counterfeit Chanel hair products.
Hynes explained that the undercover purchases took place between October 2008 and January 2009.
When they raided the East New York warehouse last week, they uncovered thousands of dollars in counterfeit items as well as 2,000 black toy guns equipped with fake laser sights.
It’s illegal in New York to sell toy guns unless they are painted in bright colors because solid-colored gray or black guns could too easily be confused as real ones, Michael Vecchione, chief of the rackets division for the Kings County District Attorney’s office, explained.
Also recovered were hundreds of “gray market” items — products that, while certified for sale in other countries, are not built to United States safety and consumer protection standards.
Gray market items found included Dove soap, Bic razors, Halls cough drops and household extension cords.
The gray market Halls cough drops are little more than candy, a DA official explained. But the most dangerous were the extension cords, which could easily combust, officials said.
Bao and Luo were arrested as chief executives of Ya Mei Trading, the signatories on all of the products shipped to the U.S.
While the warehouse was on Johnson Avenue, the two allegedly ran the business out of their Bensonhurst home.
Prosecutors charged both suspects with Trademark Counterfeiting in the First and Second degrees and Sale or Possession of Toy or Imitation Firearms, a Class-A Misdemeanor.
They were held on $5,000 bail at arraignment and are expected to answer the charges in the next few weeks.
©2009 Community News Group
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