By Madina Toure
Two Fresh Meadows residents and two Oakland Gardens residents have been arrested and charged in connection with trademark counterfeiting following the seizure of fake Apple electronic goods that had recently arrived from China, according to the Queens district attorney.
The defendants have been identified as Min Jian Hu, 28, and Jonathan Zhou, 23, both of Fresh Meadows, and Dahun Wie, 21, and Huanchao Li, both of Oakland Gardens, Queens DA Richard Brown said.
“The defendants are accused of running an underground business that catered to wholesale and retail buyers who were interested in purchasing counterfeit products of major brands for resale,” Brown said.
They were released on their own recognizance and ordered to return to court May 3. Hu was ordered to surrender his passport, Brown continued. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.
A U.S. Customs and Border agent inspected a package addressed to Hu on Feb. 28. The package is alleged to have contained 850 Powerbeats headphone boxes, 1,500 Beats By Dre and Beats Pill stereo boxes and 300 logo caps, all of which were found to be fake, according to Brown.
Earlier this month, Wie sold an undercover NYPD detective 10 pairs of Beats By Dre earbuds, five Beats By Dre speakers and five Beats By Dre headphones for $420 to Hu’s Paypal account, Brown said.
Four days later, the detective met Wie gain and bought 10 Beats Pill speakers, 10 Mini-Beats pill speakers and two Apple Watches for $160 to Hu’s PayPal account and $180 in cash to Wie, the DA said.
The afternoon of March 9, members of the NYPD, Customs and Border Protection and Allegiance Protection Group, a private investigation and security firm, conducted a partial inspection of a shipping container at the Port Newark Container Terminal, addressed to Hu, Brown continued.
The container had numerous boxes containing phony Apple watches and generic headphones, earbuds and speakers, Brown said.
On March 15, the container was delivered to the loading dock of CubeSmart, a self-storage facility in Flushing, and eight individuals, including the four defendants, unloaded the merchandise from the container into a CubeSmart storage bin and into a gray Toyota Sienna and the gray Toyota Sienna operated by Wie, the DA said.
Four court-authorized search warrants conducted later that day at CubeSmart’s Delong Street loading area turned up 4,250 generic speakers, 4,320 generic headphones and 339 Apple Watches, Brown said.
Eighteen boxes containing 604 generic speakers were also seized from the burgundy and grey Toyota Sienna vehicles and five boxes of generic speakers from the storage bin, Brown continued.
A fifth court-ordered search warrant executed at Hu’s residence recovered 2,851 assorted Beats headphones, 1,070 miscellaneous Beats Pill speakers, 27 Apple watches, 458 Beats earbud cases, 4,000 Beats plastic logo caps and 4,050 assorted Beats By Dre headphone boxes, according to Brown.
Hu told the police that he makes about $50,000 a year, has nine employees and gives them 50 percent of the sales, while Zhou said he had been working for Hu for a few months, helped put the products together at Hu’s house andwas paid $80 a day to load, unload, drive and sell products, Brown said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour