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Nearly $2M in counterfeit cigarettes, Viagra seized in Los Angeles-area bust

Los Angeles County deputies made a big bust on Monday, July 2, 2012, seizing nearly $2 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes and Viagra pills.
July 3, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles County deputies made a big bust on Monday, arresting two people and seizing nearly $2 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes and Viagra pills.

The busts were made at storage facilities in East Los Angeles, South El Monte, Rosemead and Montebello. A search of those locations yielded nearly 30,000 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes and more than 4,000 counterfeit Viagra pills.

After finding nearly $110,000 in cash at a home in Rosemead, investigators arrested a 42-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man for sales and distribution of counterfeit merchandise. The suspects, whose identities were not immediately released, face up to three years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted. The arrests came after a year-long investigation.

During the busts, investigators also found fake tax stamps from California, Arizona, Minnesota, New York and New Jersey. The forged tax stamps would have allowed the suspects to cheat the government out of more than $500,000 in state and federal taxes.

"We hope to increase global awareness of the negative impact of organized intellectual property crimes," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. "Counterfeiting and piracy impact public safety by funding organized crime, street gangs, and even terrorism through the sales of these counterfeit products. Criminals engaged in counterfeiting products cost society billions of dollars in lost government revenues, foreign investments and local business profits."

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and federal charges could be filed if it is determined the cigarettes were smuggled into the U.S. with the intent to defraud the government.


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