Texas vape shop owner pleads guilty to importing fakes

The owner of a vape shop in Texas has admitted trafficking in counterfeit goods – including atomizers, labels, boxes and bags – which he unlawfully imported from China.

36-year-old Muhammad Uzair Khalid (Uzair) pleaded guilty to the offences, which took place between October 2017 and November 2019 – at the time when the US was facing an outbreak of E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) linked to counterfeit vapes.

A search of his premises in November 2019 uncovered counterfeit vaping-related items, as well as a machine used to fill vape cartridges and several items that tested positive for tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC).

Also seized was an injector mechanism with an amber substance containing vitamin E acetate – an additive implicated in EVALI, which resulted in more than 1,000 cases and an estimated 60 deaths in the US.

Uzair admitted that he regularly communicated with Chinese manufacturers about the production and sale of counterfeit vaping products, said a Department of Justice statement on the case.

"In particular, Uzair consulted with Chinese manufacturers on methods to imitate the branding and logos of well-known American vape companies and imported and sold imitation vaping devices, labels and packaging," it added.

Uzair also admitted that he adopted and used those counterfeit marks to boost his sales, and sold numerous other counterfeit goods at his vape shop.

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