ICE: Top 5 News Stories for the Week Ending March 9, 2012

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the second largest investigative agency in the federal government. Created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, ICE now has more than 20,000 employees in offices in all 50 states and 47 foreign countries.

March 7, 2012: Feds arrest suspected large-scale smuggler of counterfeit sex drugs

Man interdicted at LAX with nearly 40,000 phony erectile dysfunction pills in his golf bag, luggageICE

 LOS ANGELES — A former Korean law enforcement officer who now lives in Los Angeles was arrested Wednesday by federal agents for allegedly attempting to smuggle nearly 40,000 counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills into the United States through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) concealed in his golf bag and luggage.

Kil Jun Lee, 71, was taken into custody Wednesday morning by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents at his Los Angeles apartment. He is charged in a criminal complaint with trafficking in counterfeit goods. Lee is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday afternoon. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Lee’s arrest comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at LAX discovered more than $700,000 worth of phony erectile dysfunction pills in his luggage when he returned from a trip to Korea Feb. 25. Specifically, the criminal complaint states that Lee’s luggage contained 29,827 counterfeit Viagra tablets, 8,993 counterfeit Cialis pills and 793 phony Levitra tablets, all concealed in aluminum foil wrapped packets. According to the complaint, when HSI special agents at LAX questioned Lee about whether the medication was for his personal use, he said if he used all of the pills it would kill him because he had a heart condition.

A subsequent analysis of some of the seized pills by CBP’s Los Angeles-area forensics lab revealed that none of them matched the ingredients contained in the genuine products.

“When it comes to counterfeit pharmaceutical products, never has the expression ‘buyer beware’ been more true,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “Part of what you’re paying for when you buy established brands, regardless of the product, is quality control. Imposter drugs like these pose a serious threat to users who mistakenly assume these substances are safe.”

“This case is another example of the dedication, training and keen perception of our officers at LAX,” said CBP’s Director of Los Angeles Field Operations Todd C. Owen. “Counterfeit medications pose a very real danger to our citizens, and thanks to our officers’ vigilance, these pills will never reach the public.”

In a separate case also worked by HSI and CBP, a Canoga Park man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to using Craigslist to advertise and sell counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs.

Barry Ronnel Johnson, 38, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking and importing counterfeit goods. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. In pleading guilty, Johnson admitted importing imposter erectile dysfunction pills from China and India, then using an advertisement on Craigslist to sell these pills.

The probe began after CBP officers at LAX intercepted a package in March 2011 containing more than 1,700 counterfeit pills that was being shipped to Johnson’s home address. Subsequently, the defendant sold 30 blue diamond shaped tablets labeled “Filagra” to an HSI undercover special agent posing as a buyer on Craigslist.

HSI, CBP and the Department of Justice are working together to combat intellectual property crimes. In fiscal year 2011, CBP and HSI made nearly 25,000 seizures involving counterfeited and pirated products, a 24 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2010.

As the federal agency responsible for the management, control and protection of U.S. borders, CBP is on the frontline of intellectual property enforcement. The men and women of CBP protect our nation’s economy, the safety of its people, and our national security against harm from counterfeit and pirated goods. The continued vigilance of CBP personnel protects United States citizens and businesses every day.

As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, HSI plays a leading role in targeting criminal organizations responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. HSI focuses not only on keeping counterfeit products off our streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind such illicit activity.

March 7, 2012 – New interagency enforcement center opens

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today announced the opening of a multi-agency center established to coordinate and enhance federal export enforcement efforts.

In November 2010, President Obama issued Executive Order 13558 mandating the departments with export control authority to coordinate their efforts to protect and enforce U.S. export control laws and share intelligence across relevant departments and agencies. The Export Enforcement Coordination Center, or E2C2, serves as the primary center for this effort and will protect the nation’s most sensitive technology through coordination and collaboration among the U.S. government export enforcement agencies that are authorized to conduct criminal investigations related to possible violations.

The center will be administered by a director from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with deputy directors from the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce.

“Both our national security and our economic security are dependent on our ability to maintain a vibrant trade system as we safely and efficiently move people and goods across our borders,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Export enforcement is a vital tool to prevent criminals and terrorists from obtaining our most sensitive weapons and technologies. The Export Enforcement Coordination Center is designed to further our ability to do so, with robust interagency cooperation and intelligence sharing.”

Participating departments and organizations include the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Commerce, State, Treasury, Defense, Energy, and the Director of National Intelligence, with representation from agencies including the FBI, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, National Nuclear Security Administration, Defense Security Service and numerous other law enforcement and licensing components.

To request more information about the E2C2, please contact E2C2 representatives at [email protected].

Read more about E2C2 at http://www.ice.gov/export-enforcement-coordination-center/.

More Top Stories from ICE

March 7, 2012 – Crips gang member sentenced to 64 months for illegally re-entering US

The six-time convicted felon had been previously deported four times to Belize. After the defendant completes his prison sentence, he will be deported for the fifth time. Full Story

March 7, 2012 – Upstate New York teacher indicted on child pornography charges

Timothy Brehmer, of Broadalbin, N.Y., was charged with possession and receipt of child pornography. If found guilty, the elementary school teacher faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Full Story

March 6, 2012 – Virginia man sentenced for conspiracy to import drugs using cruise ship employees

The defendant received 20 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for organizing the importation of cocaine and heroin from the Dominican Republic to Baltimore. Full Story

 

 

 

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