Federal authorities and local police seized more than $1 billion in knockoff designer products from a New York City storage unit, making it the largest counterfeit good bust in American history.
The massive raid, which confiscated nearly 219,000 handbags, shoes, clothes, and other luxury items, also led to the arrest of two suspected traffickers on Wednesday, according to the New York City Police Department.
The massive raid on the Manhattan storage facility took place earlier this month but was not announced until the suspects were apprehended this week. According to an unsealed indictment, Queens resident Adama Sow, 38, and Manhattanite Abdulai Jalloh, 48, (alias Troy Banks) have been charged with multiple counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.
Photos taken inside the storage unit show several units stuffed with pallets of items and shelves brimming with items of every style and color.
“One purse might seem harmless, but the production and sale of imitation products is far from a victimless crime,” said Special Agent Ivan Arvelo of the Department of Homeland Security, which assisted in the investigation. “We will not allow opportunists to convert public warehouses into their own illegal shopping centers, or to wreak havoc on the streets of New York City.”
Per a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York:
From about January 2023, up to and including October 20, 2023, Adama Sow and Abdulai Jalloh ran large-scale counterfeit goods trafficking operations out of a storage facility located in Manhattan. Jalloh also trafficked counterfeit goods out of an offsite location in Manhattan. Searches of premises controlled by Sow have resulted in the seizure of over 83,000 counterfeit items with a total estimated MSRP of over $502 million. Searches of premises controlled by Jalloh have resulted in the seizure of over 50,000 counterfeit items with a total estimated MSRP of over $237 million.
The combined estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the confiscated goods tops out at $1.03 billion, although the Attorney’s Office indicates that the street value for the items is likely much less.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Sow’s bond was set at $1 million and Jalloh’s at $500,000. If convicted, the two fraudsters face up to 10 years in prison.
“The trafficking of counterfeit goods is anything but a victimless crime because it harms legitimate businesses, governments, and consumers,” NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban 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.”