Phoenix business busted for selling counterfeit goods

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PHOENIX -- After a four-month investigation, Phoenix police officers made a big counterfeit merchandise bust at a cellular telephone and income tax business.

The investigation began in January when Phoenix police officers responded to a burglary alarm at El Mundo Latino near 32nd Street and Indian School Road.

According to Phoenix police Detective James Holmes, they didn't find any suspects, but they did find what appeared to be several handbags, purses and other items on display in a back room as if for sale.

The officers understood that the business advertised as a cellular telephone and tax service and not a retail sales business. They informed Sgt. Dave Lake, a recognized expert in counterfeit goods, of their findings and he began an investigation into the business's activities.

Lake was able to purchase goods from the back room and a search warrant was served Tuesday morning.

Investigators seized approximately 700 pieces of evidence with a street value of $14,200. Holmes said if the items were authentic and sold in licensed retail stores, they would sell for more than $235,000.

The owner, a 45-year-old woman from Ecuador, is facing several charges.

"It is imperative that we make purchases from reputable, licensed retailers not only because the sale of counterfeited goods have an adverse effect on our economy and enterprise, but, even more importantly, these products are cheaply and poorly manufactured and are distributed with absolutely no regulation or quality control," Holmes said in a news release.