It's an exclusiveinside look at what Homeland Security investigators say is a sophisticatedglobal counterfeiting ring that led them from a small businesses in Lakeland tomajor illegal operations in China and Australia.
"They were pullingin between $40,000 and $87,000 every two weeks," explained the undercoverHomeland Security agent. "At that profit margin, that's better thannarcotics."
The case began in 2010,when federal agents say they confiscated a package full of counterfeit DVDs at theOrlando International Airport. It washeaded for an office space in Lakeland belonging to Chris Clark.
The DVDs look real,from the art work on the outside to what you see inside, until you flip itover. The gold backing was a deadgiveaway that it was fake. Altogether, more than six people in Lakeland wereselling these DVDs on sites like Amazon and eBay, including the owner of abaseball memorabilia store, who they identified as John Gaglione.
"He and his familytook it to a whole another level. Theyweren't only selling them through online venues. They were selling them at the flea market,they were selling them at their local business that was a sports card andmemorabilia place and they were also making a lot of money," explained theagent, who added it was about $500,000 in just eight months.
The DVDs were comingfrom a man investigators say had ties to China, Jian Huang. They called him"China Glen." HomelandSecurity lured him to the states by posing as Clark, telling the man,"Let's go into business together. Let's make some money. Show meyour secret, and this guy had an ego and he bit," said the agent.
"China Glen"flew to Orlando, where he was arrested and investigators said heconfessed. He eventually gave them whatthey call a gold mine detailing the entire counterfeiting industry.
"A lot of theseplaces are legitimate, and at night, they shut down and that's when all of thebad people come in with their products," he said.
These illegaloperations cost the American film industry billions of dollars each year,according to Michael Robinson, the executive vice president of the MotionPicture Association of America.
"It's not justabout Hollywood stars and it's not just about big name producers. It's about the people that are seamstresses,and behind the camera, and everyone that's involved in the industry," hesaid.
Those people'spaychecks depend on DVD sales, and that's why he said that this case is soimportant.
A total of nine peoplein the DVD piracy ring are now serving various sentences. The last of them wassentenced today to 33 months behind bars. As for the ring leader, the man thefeds called "China Glen," he's a Chinese national and was sentencedto 51 months and has to repay the film industry $1.2 million.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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