Biggest Case in U.S. History
Los Angeles, Calif. -- Operation White Horse, an 18-month undercover investigation conducted by the U.S. Customs Service in Los Angeles, has resulted in three arrests and the all-time record seizure of $100 million worth of counterfeit computer software. Customs special agents from the Los Angeles Offices of Investigations and Internal Affairs targeted suspects involved in smuggling merchandise, including pirated computer software and counterfeit cigarettes, into the commerce of the United States. During the course of the investigation, suspects Tony Lu, 47, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., and Vincent Koo, 44, of Monterey Park, Calif., are alleged to have repeatedly bribed a man whom they believed to be a corrupt U.S. Customs special agent. The agent, however, actually was working in an undercover capacity in furtherance of an international smuggling and bribery investigation. A total of $57,500 was paid in “bribes” to facilitate the suspects’ smuggling venture. On November 6, 2001, U.S. Customs agents served three arrest warrants and executed two search warrants in conjunction with Operation White Horse. Tony Lu, Vince Koo, and Wilson Liu, 39, of Pasadena, Calif., were arrested on federal complaints charging them with bribery of a public official, smuggling merchandise into the U.S., entry of goods by means of false statements and conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. Seized in connection with these arrests were one 40-foot shipping container of counterfeit computer software, and packaging material valued in excess of $100 million, and two 40-foot shipping containers of
counterfeit Marlboro cigarettes totaling 85,000 cartons (17 million cigarettes). The first search warrant, on November 6, was executed at Yojin International, El Monte, Calif., the business premises of Tony Lu. The second search warrant, also on November 6, was executed at Storage
USA in La Puente, California. Customs agents seized from this previously identified storage unit over 47,000 copies of counterfeit Microsoft and Symantec software and 21 cartons of counterfeit end user license agreements, manuals, bar codes, adhesive labels and registration cards. During the search of the storage unit, an individual identified as Lisa Wu Chen arrived in a vehicle containing what appeared to be boxes of counterfeit software and packaging materials. Customs agents obtained
consent to search the vehicle, confirmed the presence of additional counterfeit software and then coordinated the investigation with members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department High Tech Computer Crimes Task Force in an attempt to further identify those responsible for the domestic distribution of this merchandise. Federal penalties for the charges of smuggling, conspiracy and bribery range from two to five years per offense charged. The investigation is continuing.