Seven Individuals Indicted For Trafficking In Counterfeit Goods
SAN JUAN, PR – On April 14, a federal grand jury returned six separate indictments charging seven individuals for trafficking in counterfeit goods, specifically “Freshlook” mark contact lenses, announced United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez. The investigations were conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the collaboration of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and the San Juan Municipal Police.
Beginning no later than July 19, 2012, and continuing to on or about August 21, 2012, José Estevez-Cabrera did conspire with other persons, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to traffic in goods, specifically contact lenses, knowingly using on and in connection with such goods a counterfeit mark, namely the “Freshlook” logo. According to the indictment, Estevez-Cabrera did intentionally traffic in goods, aiding and abetting others, with intent to defraud and mislead, received a misbranded device, that is counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses, in interstate commerce, and delivered and proffered delivery to another, for pay and otherwise. Said device was misbranded in that its labeling was false and misleading in any particular. The defendant is facing a forfeiture allegation of 3,942 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses.
Wilma Soto-Díaz and Karla Rodríguez-Soto, mother and daughter, are charged with Conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and trafficking in counterfeit goods. They are both facing a forfeiture allegation of 101 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses.
On four separate indictments, Ezequiel Bayon-Santos, Katherine Agostini-Ruiz, Rafael Torres-Vicente and Eileen Martinez-Estevez are charged with trafficking counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses. These defendants are facing the following forfeiture allegations:
- Bayon-Santos- 93 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses
- Agostini-Ruiz- 93 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses
- Torres-Vicente- 25 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses
- Martinez-Estevez- 15 boxes of counterfeit Freshlook Colorblends contact lenses
“These defendants recklessly put in danger the health of many patients who need contact lenses by trafficking the counterfeit lenses. Specifically, lab tests revealed that many of the counterfeit contact lenses were contaminated with bacteria, and some also had physical defects including sharp edges,” said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez.
“To people who think designer knockoffs are a harmless way to beat the system and get a great deal - buyer beware,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “Part of what you're paying for when you buy established brands, regardless of the product, are quality control. As this case shows, when you purchase counterfeit decorative contact lenses, you can easily get something you hadn't bargained for, something that could put you at risk by damaging your eyes or even blind you.”
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin R. Martin. The maximum penalties are 10 years of imprisonment for conspiracy to counterfeit goods and for trafficking in counterfeit goods; and 3 years for misbranding devices. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.