Spanish national pleads guilty to fake cell phone parts scam

Many hands with mobile phonesA San Diego businessman has pleaded guilty to money laundering and trafficking counterfeit cell phone components.

Spanish national Octavio Cesar Sana - who has residency rights in the US - admitted that he sold $3.2m-worth of Chinese-made fake cell phone parts through businesses he operated since 2007 including a website called

He admitted that he and co-conspirator Hongwei Du attended meetings in the US to set up and expand their counterfeit trafficking venture, which employed at least four other people. Around half the components sold through Sana's business were fake, according to court documents.

The two were arrested on February 3 at the Imperial Valley Airport after an investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Sana also admitted that he and his co-conspirators used extensive methods to frustrate the ability of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to detect the imported counterfeit goods, including placing 'protective stickers' on products to obscure infringing trademarks.

The defendants also used a dedicated shipping channel for branded goods to avoid attention from Chinese customs officials.

One of Sana's employees - Angela Vela - pleaded guilty to separate charges in federal court in El Centro earlier this month. Du is next scheduled to appear in court on November 2.

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