NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Five people and five corporations have been charged with importing hazardous and counterfeit toys from China to the United States, the Justice Department said.
Chenglan Hu, 51, Hua Fei Zhang, 52, and Xiu Lan Zhang, 60, all Chinese nationals and residents of Queens, N.Y., and Guan Jun Zhang, 29, and Jun Wu Zhang, 28, both naturalized citizens and Queens residents, were charged in a 24-count indictment, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The indictment also names the defendants' companies -- Family Product USA Inc., H.M. Import USA Corp., ZCY Trading Corp., Zone Import Corp. and ZY Wholesale Inc.
The defendants are charged with importing and trafficking hazardous toys -- in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act -- and toys bearing copyright-infringing images and counterfeit trademarks from July 2005 through January 2013. Charges also include smuggling and money laundering, the Justice Department said in a news release.
The indictment alleges the defendants used the companies named as corporate defendants to sell illegally imported toys from a storefront and warehouse in Ridgewood, N.Y., and other locations in Brooklyn and Queens.
"They allegedly retooled their operations many times in order to avoid detection, and despite repeated citations by the authorities, they continued to peddle counterfeit toys featuring Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants and other popular children's characters," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
The five people named in the indictment were arrested Wednesday. Federal and local officials seized luxury vehicles and several bank accounts in raids on a warehouse and two residences.