Bootleggers arrested for selling high-end counterfeits in LA’s fashion district
Six men with alleged gang ties have been hit with $3.6 million in civil penalties for selling fake Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other high-end brands in Los Angeles’ fashion district .
City Attorney Mike Feuer said the defendants — who were also banned for a decade from visiting the district — sold their counterfeit products in parking lots, alleys, street kiosks and storage units in downtown Los Angeles, some as early as 2006.
“The sale of counterfeits is a source of revenue for some criminal gangs, who may use this money to fund other illicit activities,” Feuer said in a statement. “Furthermore, counterfeits are often made by victims of labor trafficking. It is vital to continue to disrupt counterfeit networks involving gangs in Los Angeles”
According to the complaint, the defendants – Ivan Zamora, Arnold Estrada, David Montiel, Jose Guadalupe Perez, Jr., Wilfredo Antonio Belloso, Jr. and Julio Cesar Santana – deployed a complex system with “runners” in the Santee shopping area Alley and used two-way radios to notify each other when police were nearby.
The city attorney also alleged that some of the illegal vendors openly claimed gang affiliation and offered to sell Xanax and “large quantities” of marijuana to undercover investigators.
The six men received copies of the complaint in October 2020, officials said. Five of the six defendants did not respond to the complaint, so a default judgment was entered against them in court, banning them from the Fashion District area for a decade, said Ivor Pine, spokesman for the office of the LA City attorney.
Belloso was the only defendant to respond to the complaint, Pine said. He is also required to pay $10,000 in civil penalties.
The other five defendants, however, must pay a total of $3.6 million in civil penalties. All men have been banned from the fashion industry for 10 years.
Although the six defendants do not face criminal charges in this case, they could be arrested if they violate the order to stay away from the Downtown Fashion District.
“We decided that in this case, a civil action was more effective in resolving this issue than a criminal case,” Pine told the Post. “In a criminal case, their probation – assuming they weren’t baffled – would likely be two years. Using the Unfair Competition Act, we were able to submit 650 pages of evidence and pleadings to the Court to provide a full and detailed view of all related activities of these defendants that warranted a 10-year ban from the Fashion District.
The majority of counterfeit clothing and related products came from China, Pine said.
The case was a coordinated operation between the LA City District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and private investigators.