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Almost $2 million in counterfeit cigarettes, Viagra seized

July 3, 2012 |  9:26 am

Almost $2 million in counterfeit cigarettes and counterfeit Viagra pills were seized by authorities Monday

Authorities seized almost $2 million in counterfeit cigarettes and counterfeit Viagra pills Monday and have made two connected arrests to culminate part of a lengthy investigation that spanned several Southland cities.

Twenty officers from various agencies fanned across Los Angeles County and searched four locations Monday morning to locate the counterfeit goods, the sheriff’s department said in a news release.

In the cities of Rosemead, Montebello, South El Monte and unincorporated East Los Angeles, deputies say they discovered $1.8 million in counterfeit cigarettes and nearly $100,000 in counterfeit Viagra pills as well as counterfeit tax stamps from five states. They say the bogus stamps would have cost the California taxpayers nearly $260,000 in state taxes and $300,000 in lost federal tax revenue.

An unidentified 42-year-old woman and 37-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of the sale and distribution of counterfeit merchandise at their residence, Sheriff's Det. Kevin Olive said. Investigators say they found about $110,000 in cash that had been hidden inside the home on the 9400 block of Ralph Street in Rosemead. Both suspects face up to three years in prison and a $1 million fine if convicted.

Olive said the investigation began more than a year ago and is continuing. Officials say federal charges could still be filed if investigators determine the goods were smuggled into the U.S with “intent to defraud the government.”

"Counterfeiting and piracy impacts public safety by funding organized crime, street gangs, and even terrorism through the sales of these counterfeit products,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said in the statement. "Criminals engaged in counterfeiting products cost society billions of dollars in lost government revenues, foreign investments and local business profits."

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-- Matt Stevens

Twitter.com/mattstevenslat

Photo: Almost $2 million in counterfeit cigarettes and counterfeit Viagra pills were seized by authorities Monday. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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