U.S. federal law enforcement officials have arrested members of an Asian counterfeit ring in several U.S. cities, including Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The alleged counterfeiters were taken into custody as they attended what they thought was a mobster's wedding. FBI Special Agent Leslie Wiser describes the investigation. "Instead of the tuxedoed ushers they expected, members of a criminal Asian enterprise were greeted by the FBI's Atlantic City Asian Criminal Enterprise Task Force," he explained.
So ends a six-year undercover investigation, which began with federal agents on the trail of shipments of counterfeit cigarettes.
This led to counterfeit drugs, millions in counterfeit U.S. currency, and finally, an all too real weapons deal the criminals negotiated with undercover federal agents.
Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles McKenna says the operation netted "Approximately 50 rocket launchers, um, and approximately 50 anti-tank launchers."
More than 1,000 automatic weapons were also part of the deal. The counterfeit shipments all came through U.S. ports in New Jersey and California. From there, the shipments were transferred to trucks for delivery throughout the country.
Leslie Wiser says, the counterfeit operation was a sophisticated operation, but so was the FBI's. "The undercover agents were so convincing, one of the arrested guests asked if the wedding was still going to happen. When told there was no wedding, he expressed concern for the happy couple, asking, 'What happened?'"
In all, 87 Asian nationals were indicted.