Horry County Police, Secretary of State conduct counterfeit merchandise operation

Three people were arrested and almost $150,000 in counterfeit merchandise was seized in a raid conducted by the South Carolina Secretary of State's Office and the Horry County Police Department during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

Anthony J. Samuels, of Trenton, NJ, and Pamela L. Jackson, of Winston Salem, NC, were arrested and charged with distribution of counterfeit goods. Idrissa Samba of Southfield, MI, was arrested and charged with trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Counterfeit merchandise with an estimated retail value of almost $149,000 was seized by officers.

The merchandise included purses, shoes, wallets, watches, and belts that were manufactured to look like products made by Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Chanel, Fendi, Prada, Nike, Timberland and Coach.

A van used to transport goods and $2,730 in cash was also seized.

The raid was conducted on Sunday during the Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

The Secretary of State's Office has worked for several years with the Horry County Police Department to shut down counterfeit merchandise sales during Bikefest, according to a news release.

"Although there are numerous other crimes that are addressed during Bike Week, we owe it to our local business community to be very vigilant in stopping these sales," said Chief Saundra Rhodes of the Horry County Police Department.

Secretary of State Mark Hammond said during a news conference Tuesday morning that this is not a victimless crime.

"The sale of counterfeit merchandise exploits our tourists, hurts manufacturers, retailers, and the economy," said Hammond. "I encourage consumers to question inappropriate pricing or markings on known 'designer' items, as well as where the items are being sold."

Distribution of counterfeit merchandise carries a fine of up to $20,000 and/or five years imprisonment. Trafficking in counterfeit goods carries a five year prison term with fines up to $25,000. More stringent trademark legislation was passed in 2006 as a result of the joint efforts of law enforcement and the Secretary of State's Office.