Five New York City companies have been accused of importing toxic and potentially hazardous toys from China.
Authorities have been investigating the import of toys from China for nearly eight years. According to CNN, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have confiscated thousands of toys as a result of the operation.
Toys seized by officials included Winnie the Pooh, Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, Betty Boop, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Spider-Man, Tweety, Mickey Mouse, and Pokemon.
The defendants, which include five companies and five individuals, are charged with violating the Consumer Product Safety Act. The website also states the defendants were accused of “importing toys bearing copyright-infringing images and counterfeit trademarks, smuggling, and money laundering.”
Loretta Lynch, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a recent statement:
“For years, the defendants sought to enrich themselves by importing and selling dangerous and counterfeit children’s toys without regard for the law or the health of our children. Profits from the counterfeit items, as well as toys riddled with lead and choking hazards, went to provide the defendants with luxury cars. We stand committed to protecting the residents of our communities from those who would engage in such conduct.”
Agents have reportedly seized five tractor trailers filled with merchandise worth in excess of $10 million. The companies made so much money off the toxic toys that employees were able to afford numerous expensive items.
According to CBS News, the toys were being sold in stores located in Queens and Brooklyn. Prosecutors said the toys have been making the rounds in the area since July of 2005.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said:
“When it comes to trademark infringement, don’t mess with Mickey or other American icons.”
The five companies currently face 24 separate counts for importing toxic toys from China and selling them in stores throughout New York City.