BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A Bellingham man was booked and released from the Whatcom County Jail today, Friday, June 3rd, by Bellingham Police after having been sent a summons to appear in Whatcom County Superior Court today where he has been charged with 9 counts of felony counterfeiting and 1st degree theft.
According to the affidavit of probable cause prepared by the Bellingham Police Department (BPD) and submitted in court by prosecutors, the arrest followed a years-long ongoing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and BPD.
A BPD detective and HSI agents visited the man’s Deemer Road residence in May 2019 after 2 packages containing counterfeit designer label products sent to the man were seized by US Customs and Border Protection in 2018. After being invited in, they observed products in bins, packing materials including bags with designer labels and tags and computers, 1 of which displayed what appeared to be a shipping label. The man said he was unemployed but sold the watches seen in the bins and claimed to have about $100,000 in the bank. He denied the goods he was selling were counterfeit but acknowledged having received a prior notice from HSI about counterfeit goods.
A search warrant was served on the residence. The search revealed “large quantities of apparently counterfeit items and what appeared to be a shipping operation set up. … There were multiple boxes containing goods marked with designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Armani. The boxes were all wrapped in tape that the HSI agents knew to only be used on items being shipped from China.”
Approximately 6 van loads of property and paperwork were collected during execution of the search warrant. The approximate value of the confirmed counterfeit goods was over $1,500,000. Further investigation revealed several business entities owned or operated by the man, identified as Yaoyu “Jonathan” Zhang, age 37.
HSI was able to confirm 63 shipments of suspected counterfeit goods were received at the Deemer Road residence between 2014 and 2019.
Zhang’s arrest followed a Ferndale woman being indicted this week by a federal grand jury for multiple counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.