INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Over $1 million of counterfeit merchandise was found in a storage unit on the east side of Indianapolis.
Police arrested two people in connection to the crime. Fei Qi Zhang, 43, and Ling Jiang, 34, are sitting in the Hancock County Jail, charged with counterfeiting and drug possession.
Authorities said most of the counterfeit items, like UGG gloves, North Face jackets, and Beats by Dre headphones, came from New York and New Jersey.
They believe a gang is behind the operation and using Indianapolis as their central hub to receive and distribute the merchandise across the country.
The investigation began when a Hancock County Sheriff deputy pulled over a red Nissan Altima for a traffic violation on Wednesday morning along I-70.
The deputy knew something wasn’t right and began asking the driver and passenger questions. The driver consented to a search.
“We opened the truck and in the back floor board in there were 672 pairs of counterfeit UGG merchandise gloves,” said deputy Nick Ernstes. “Most of them were actually sealed up in a large trash bag, so until we opened the bags, I wasn’t sure exactly what we were dealing with.”
The deputy also found drugs, cash and clues leading to them to a storage facility called Store House near 25th Street and Mitthoeffer Road.
Investigators later searched six of the eight storage units and found more than 300 boxes of counterfeit goods, including 1,000 pair of counterfeit North Face fleece jackets and more than 200 pairs of Beats by Dre headphones.
“Those particular units can get very hot and burn your skin and burn around your ears, it’s very painful,” said deputy Ernstes. “You definitely want to be very cautious about purchasing those items.”
According to court papers, Zhang told investigators he and Jiang had been traveling from state to state—Florida to Illinois to New York. They were headed to Missouri when they were pulled over.
In the probable cause, Zhang told investigators he bought the gloves on Canal Street in New York for $1 a pair. He was going to sell them for $2 at a flea market in St. Louis.
“The clothing was substantial marked down from what it would normally be in a retail market,” said Ernstes.
Authorities said the real merchandise is priced anywhere between $85 to $100.
“We don’t actually understand or know the actual chemicals that are going into the clothing to make them,” said deputy Ernstes. “You don’t know if maybe somebody could have a reaction and it’s not very regulated from where this stuff is coming from.”
Authorities believe the counterfeit items were being sold at different festivals across Indiana. Authorities said the men set up a booth recently at Levi Coffin Days in Fountain City.