Production and transportation of counterfeit goods have become more common issues in the information age, and Dallas is shaping up to be a hotspot for such activities. In the last month, there have been three noteworthy stories break involving everything from electronics, clothing, and money, to drugs, explosives, and firearms.
The highest-profile incident recently occurred at DFW Airport. Here’s what went down.
Ten Airline Employees Under Arrest
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a federal investigation launched in August 2016. Some of the 10 suspects were involved in transporting a substance “believed to be methamphetamine” that turned out to be counterfeit drugs “through DFW Airport and onto commercial airline flights.” The accused agreed to prices between $1,500 and $2,000 to move the materials.
Subsequent charges were accumulated for explosives and firearms. Employees were from multiple airlines working out of DFW.
In the case of highly-regulated (and dangerous or illegal) materials like those in the DFW Airport case, the “authenticity” of materials isn’t quite as important as the intent to distribute materials while believing their legitimacy. In other cases — like with typically “harmless” consumer products or fake currency — the major issue is the counterfeiting itself. How is it punished, and what’s the best defense?
Paying the Price for Counterfeit Goods
In Texas, a counterfeiting or forgery conviction can result in imprisonment (2-10 years) as well as fines of up to $10,000. That can compound depending on the number of incidents, the intent behind the counterfeiting, and the potential damages to life, health, and property.
Counterfeiting, as in the DFW Airport case, also has a tendency to turn up in more serious criminal elements, thus increasing the severity of any conviction. These are factors to consider before knowingly entering into an agreement where you will be creating, handling, or transporting counterfeit goods.
If Facing Charges
The key to any counterfeit goods defense is to know your position on the “supply chain.” Are you the creator, the distributor, or the end user? Did you lack the intent in using or transporting the product to defraud or harm someone else?
If you can establish a good-faith belief the product was legitimate, that makes the prosecution’s desire to convict more difficult to accomplish. While it may not keep you out of trouble altogether, it can certainly lessen the legal repercussions.
No attorney can guarantee your outcome when you find yourself facing counterfeiting charges, but experienced attorneys are worth their weight in actual gold (not pyrite). They can help you devise a strong strategy for fighting the charges. John Teakell offers services for a variety of white-collar crimes, including counterfeit goods defense. He’s willing to help in any way he can. Just give him a call or reach out online.
[Featured Image via Flickr Creative Commons]