In sneakerhead culture, there are few kicks more coveted than Nike’s Air Jordans. Sneaker stores and sites are overrun with customers wishing to get the most recent Jordan releases when they drop. The high demand for Jays means that, naturally, there is a bustling market for counterfeit copies of the shoes. Five people–Miyuki Suen, Jian Min Huang, Songhua Qu, Kin Lui Chen and Fangrang Qu–seemed to have a good thing going, selling millions of dollars worth of fugazi Jordans. Now, they have all been charged with running counterfeit trafficking conspiracy and trafficking in counterfeit goods to the tune of $73 million.
ABC News broke down the process that the quintet used:
The counterfeit sneakers look like real Air Jordans in design and color but lack the logos that are registered trademarks, court records said.
After the fakes arrived at the Port of Newark from China, they were taken to locations in Brooklyn and Queens where the logos were added and then distributed for sale, NYPD and HSI investigators said.
For the last two years the counterfeiting ring has shipped 42 containers full of these generic sneakers that would retail for $190 per pair, court records said.
Over the past eight months, investigators have inspected 27,000 pairs of sneakers emanating from the five individuals named before they were charged.
“These five individuals are alleged to have been a part of a large-scale counterfeiting scheme, importing nearly a half million pairs of knock-off Nike sneakers. These counterfeiting networks can be both detrimental to our economy and threaten our national security, and HSI will continue to take every measure in investigating and dismantling these organizations,” said Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez.
If convicted, the five men each face a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.