A Texas vape shop owner pleaded guilty to Tuesday’s felony charge related to the importation of fake vaping products, according to the Department of Justice. Muhammad Uzair Khalid, 36, of Garland in Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking counterfeit goods in violation of 18 U.S.C. SS 2320(a(1). Uzair admitted that he illegally imported vaping-related items from China from October 2017 through November 2019,. This included counterfeit vaping atomizers and labels as well as boxes and bags.
Since August 2019,, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have been investigating a 2019 2020 nationwide outbreak of E-cigarettes or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury. This included more than 1 ,000 report of lung injuries due to vaping products. Authorities have been warning that injuries could be due to vaping products containing Vitamin E acetate (THC) and tetrahydrocannabinol.
During a November 2019 vape shop search in Texas, Homeland Security Investigations special agents seized counterfeit vaping products. They also seized a machine used for filling vape cartridges. There were several items that tested positive to THC as well as an injector mechanism with Vitamin E acetate.
In pleading guilty, Uzair acknowledged that he had regularly spoken with Chinese manufacturers regarding the sale and production of counterfeit vaping products. Uzair was particularly accused of consulting Chinese manufacturers about how to imitate American vape brands and labels. He also imported and sold counterfeit vaping products, labels, and packaging. Uzair also admitted to using these counterfeit marks in order to increase his sales. Uzair also sold many other counterfeit products at his vape shop.
The Department of Justice takes counterfeiting very seriously,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partner to take these products off of the market .”
Our investigation revealed that we had to quickly take action against counterfeit vaping-related products,” stated U.S. attorney Chad E. Meacham of the Northern District of Texas. “The Justice Department will not accept the importation black-market goods .”
HSI is committed enforcing our nation’s intellectual rights laws to help protect American consumers,” said Christopher Miller, Acting Special Agent In Charge at HSI Dallas. We strive to protect legitimate U.S. companies from financial harm caused in part by criminal organizations that profiteer from counterfeit goods
U.S. Magistrate Renee Harris Toliver accepted the defendant’s guilty plea at a federal court in Dallas.
The case is being prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Phelesa Man Guy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorneys Speare Hodges (Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was the primary investigator in this matter.