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DOJ, DHS Bust Ring Trafficking Counterfeit Cisco Hardware

Global 'Operation Network Raider' initiative seized phony routers, switches, network cards, secure communication devices made in China
A joint operation of the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has busted a counterfeit Cisco hardware ring that spanned the globe -- resulting in 30 felony convictions and seizure of counterfeit Cisco hardware and labels worth more than $145 million.

The outcome of the so-called Operation Network Raider has yielded nine suspects now awaiting trial and another eight awaiting sentencing, authorities announced yesterday. The CBP says counterfeit network hardware seizures have dropped 75 percent at the U.S. borders from 2008 to 2009.

The ICE and CBP seized more than 94,000 counterfeit Cisco network components and labels estimated to be worth $86 million as part of the operation. The counterfeit hardware included routers, switches, network cards, and devices that secure communications.

"These cases involve greedy businessmen hocking counterfeit and substandard hardware to any buyer -- whether it could affect the health and safety of others in a hospital setting or the security of our troops on the battlefield," said John Morton, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, in a statement. "They pose a triple threat to our nation by stealing from our economy, threatening U.S. jobs and potentially putting the safety of our citizens at risk."

Ehab Ashoor, 49, a Saudi citizen living in Texas , was sentenced to 51 months in prison and $119,400 in restitution to Cisco for his part in trafficking the counterfeit wares. Asboor bought fake Cisco Gigabit interface converters from a vendor in China and planned to resell them to the U.S. Marine Corps deployed in Iraq.

And Yongcai Li, 33, a resident of China, will serve 30 months in prison and pay $790,683 to Cisco after being convicted of trafficking in counterfeit Cisco gear, which he shipped to the U.S.

"Trafficking in counterfeit computer components is a problem that spans the globe and impacts most, if not all, major network equipment manufacturers. As this operation demonstrates, sustained cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector is often a critical factor in disrupting and dismantling criminal organizations that threaten our economy and endanger public safety," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer in a statement. "Through the IP Task Force, and with recently announced additional resources, we are intensely focused on bringing to justice those who engage in piracy and counterfeiting."

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