01/30/08 — Investigators capture $15,000 in counterfeit clothing in stop

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Investigators capture $15,000 in counterfeit clothing in stop

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 30, 2008 1:47 PM

Illegally tinted windows led the Wayne County Sheriff's Office to a stash of more than $15,000 worth of counterfeit clothes after a traffic stop, authorities said.

Counterfeit clothes are simply garments that use company logos and trademarks to make forgeries look (almost) like the real deal.

The mirror tint on a black Lincoln Continental prompted Detective Matt Miller of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement team to pull the vehicle over on U.S. 70 West in Rosewood, Miller said.

Elroy resident Curtis Antonio Jones, 31, Powell Road, and his passenger, Michael Jashon Collie, 24, Hadden Street, LaGrange, were somewhat nervous, Miller and other members of the A.C.E. Team said.

"(Jones) said he had caught some bad drug charges, and he thought that he was moving on to something better" with counterfeit clothing, Miller said.

Jones and Collie were "the whole time just complaining that they were going to lose their merchandise."

Jones consented to a search of his vehicle when pulled over on U.S. 70 just before 5 p.m. on Monday, Miller said.

"They were just saying that they wanted to be able to keep their stuff," the detective said. "They didn't think this was anything illegal."

The two men told Sheriff's Office authorities that they bought the goods at a Raleigh flea market, deputies said.

A.C.E. Team Sgt. Mike Cox said he and Cpl. Jerry Maxwell have been through training on how to spot knock-off goods that deceitful merchants might try to sell for premium prices.

The training was put on by N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who collaborated with multinational corporations like Nike and North Face to train officers on the earmarks of a counterfeit clothing operation.

On Tuesday, Cox pointed out what was wrong with certain items in the seized stash, which included forged Nike shoes, Sean John jumpsuits and pricey Baby Phat sweatshirts, among other things.

"You see this label here?" Cox said, pointing at shoddy stitching and missing information on the tag of one garment. The tongue of a pair of imitation Nike shoes was also poorly constructed, he pointed out.

Maxwell said the last time the Sheriff's Office made a large counterfeit clothing bust, some of the goods were sent to Louisiana to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

With this bust, authorities said, it will be up to the judge as to what the eventual fate of the clothing might be.

Detective Rick Farfour said the most likely outcome would be a bonfire.

The U.S. Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration says forged goods are a bigger problem than disappointed or deceived consumers.

The FBI, Interpol, World Customs Organization and the International Chamber of Commerce provides estimates that 8 percent of all world trade deals in counterfeit goods, the International Trade Administration says.

U.S. companies lose as much as $250 billion in sales on phony goods on an annual basis.

The administration also estimates that all types of intellectual property theft -- which also includes software and bogus pharmaceuticals -- might force 750,000 U.S. citizens to lose their jobs each year.