According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), two New York residents have pleaded guilty to charges arising from importing more than 100,000 counterfeit and hazardous children’s toys from China. Sentencing will occur at a later date. For nearly a decade, Chenglan Hu, her husband Hua Fei Zhang and other individual defendants allegedly used five corporations to import and sell toys from China from locations in Ridgewood, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York. Customs officials seized shipments on 33 separate occasions and found toys prohibited in the United States because of “excessive lead content, excessive phthalate levels, small parts that presented risks of choking, aspiration or ingestion, and easily accessibly battery compartments.” They also seized toys bearing copyright-infringing images and counterfeit trademarks.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said, “[T]he defendants lined their pockets while putting at risk the health of our children by smuggling dangerous and copyright-infringing toys into the United States. Today’s guilty pleas signify the end of this dangerous pipeline from China.” Hu and Zhang, who were the last of the individual defendants to plead guilty, have agreed to forfeit $700,000 and more than 120,000 unsafe children’s toys, and the government has already seized three luxury vehicles and six bank accounts related to the operation. An August 27, 2014, DOJ news release stated that “Hu, Zhang, and the other individual defendants changed their use of the companies, sometimes even forming new companies, and alternated their formal titles in order to conceal their continued importation and distribution of hazardous and counterfeit toys.” See hlntv.com, August 30, 2014.