A Senate panel is told that some traffickers of high-end counterfeits have ties to Hezbollah. From the LA Times, with thanks to EPG.
WASHINGTON “” When Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. John Stedman was booking a clothing store owner last year on charges of selling counterfeit high-fashion merchandise, his attention was drawn to the large and colorful tattoo on the man’s arm.
The tattoo included Arabic writing, suggesting it wasn’t a gang symbol or the mark of one of the many organized crime syndicates that have helped make dealing in knockoff goods “” like Gucci handbags, Prada shoes and Louis Vuitton watches “” a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States.
It turned out to be a symbol of allegiance to Hezbollah, the Islamic militant organization that the U.S. government has designated as a terrorist group.
The case of the tattooed merchant was one of several in Southern California in which alleged Hezbollah operatives had been caught trafficking in counterfeit merchandise, Stedman and other experts told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
They said that suspected Hezbollah operatives in the U.S. and other groups accused of terrorist activity were raising as much as $30 million a year in America through the sale of counterfeit merchandise and other criminal enterprises, and sending unknown but substantial sums back home…