LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has successfully secured a 10-year injunction and more than $1 million in civil penalties against two counterfeit laundry detergent dealers and their supplier operating in six Southern California cities including Los Angeles.
"Whether it’s counterfeit laundry detergent sold online or allegedly phony and potentially deadly pharmaceuticals dispensed from a Pacoima storefront, our office will continue cracking down on counterfeit goods," said City Attorney Feuer. "Counterfeits rip off consumers, hurt legitimate businesses, negatively impact our local economy and can jeopardize public health and safety. We thank the LA Sheriff’s Department for its partnership on this vital consumer protection work."
"We’re grateful for the partnership with authorities who share our common goal to ensure consumers get the quality, safety and value they expect, while stopping crime in its tracks," said Anne Candido, P&G Communications. "Simply put, counterfeits cheat consumers, put consumer health safety at risk and are bad for businesses big and small."
The court ruled that defendant Nancy Flores and her husband Marvin Santiago Caceres routinely advertised and sold counterfeit Procter & Gamble laundry detergent and dish soap labeled falsely as Tide, Gain, Downy and Dawn. The defendants were found to have committed 4,910 violations of the Unfair Competition Law.
As a result, a 10-year injunction was issued against each of the defendants prohibiting them from possessing or selling counterfeit goods or being employed by any business in the state of California related to the sale, storage or possession of detergent and CD’s or DVD’s. In addition, the Court awarded $1,017,000 in civil penalties.
Beginning in March 2016, private investigators identified Flores and Caceres from social media advertisements as selling large quantities of detergent and dish soap. On several occasions, undercover investigators purchased multiple five-gallon containers of detergent in cash. Taxes were not charged and receipts were not provided. The goods were examined and determined to be counterfeit. In May, Sheriff Department deputies served a search warrant at the home of Flores and Caceres and recovered 23 counterfeit buckets of detergent. A subsequent search warrant at their supplier Fernando Andrade’s home also yielded 2,557 phony Tide, Gain and Downy labels. In addition, Sheriff’s deputies uncovered a large-scale CD/DVD pirating operation and over 2,250 CD’s and DVD’s at Andrade’s home.
Law enforcement, including the FBI and Interpol, have documented that proceeds from the sale of counterfeit goods fund organized crime, and that counterfeit goods harm legitimate businesses by stealing their intellectual property. Counterfeit sales also deprive the public of tax revenues needed to fund city services including parks, libraries and public safety.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin Gilligan, Director of the City Attorney’s Anti-Counterfeit Enforcement Program, handled the litigation.