For Immediate Release
UTAH A.G. strike FORCE SEIZES 30,000 PIRATED MOVIE AND MUSIC DISCS
A strike force aimed at stopping major crimes committed by illegal aliens has made Utah’s biggest bust involving illegally pirated CDs and DVDs. The Utah Attorney General’s Office SECURE (Statewide Enforcement of Crimes by Undocumented Residents) Strike Force announced the results of the crackdown that resulted in the arrest of 6 suspects and the seizure of nearly 30,000 illegally pirated movie and music discs.
Piracy is stealing and it doesn't just keep Lady Gaga and Angelina Jolie from making a few more dollars," says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. "This crime affects artists, writers directors backup singers, stage crew workers and every taxpayer in the U.S."
In July 2010 the SECURE Strike Force received information that a Utah warehouse was being used to distribute pirated CDs and DVDs between California and Utah. Agents began investigating and started making purchases outside Mexican food markets in Salt Lake City and Ogden.
On February 9 and 10, SECURE agents served warrants and made arrests at a home in Ogden and the Produce Express warehouse in Salt Lake City. The strike force seized 21,000 CDs and 8,071 DVDs, a total of 29,071 discs worth $345,861. A vehicle was also seized.
“These pirated goods are being shipped by train, truck and air,” says SECURE Strike Force Commander Leo Lucey. “This means taxes and fees are not being paid and it creates a huge impact on Utah’s tax base and hurts legitimate businesses that are put at an unfair disadvantage.”
During this operation the strike force made the following arrests in Ogden on Thursday:
- Abel Hernandez-Melendez Jr., 30, 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering, 3 third-degree felony counts of giving false information and 2 third-degree felony counts of forgery.
- Abel Hernandez-Castillo Sr., 57, 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering, 3 third-degree felony counts of giving false information and 1 third-degree felony count of forgery.
- Carlos Hernandez-Melendez, 35, 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering, 3 third-degree felony counts of giving false information and 3 third-degree felony counts of forgery.
- Elia Guillermina Maldonado-Avila,41, 3 third-degree felony counts of giving false information, 2 third-degree felony counts of forgery and 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering. All 4 men are in the country illegally.
The strike force made the following arrests in Salt Lake City on Friday:
- Orlando Robles Rojas, 35, and Yubani Lopez Rojas, 40, 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering, 3 third-degree felony counts of giving false information. Both men are in the country illegally and have prior criminal histories.
- Encarnacion Flores Hernandez, 38, and Jorge Pasillas Flores, 33, aggravated re-entry into the U.S. and both have prior criminal histories.
The strike force also made arrests on October 28, 2010 in Ogden in connection with this case:
- Freddy Hernandez-Torres, 29, and Valentine Hernandez-Torres, 32, 5 third-degree felony counts of failure to disclose the origin of a recording, 1 second-degree felony count of money laundering and 1 second-degree felony count of racketeering.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says each year sound recording piracy results in the loss of more than 70,000 sound recording or retail jobs, $2 billion in wages and $422 million tax revenue in the U.S. The overall impact of this crime on the U.S. economy amounts to $12.5 billion.
“On behalf of the major U.S. music labels, we thank the Utah State Attorney General’s Office and ICE/ERO for their efforts to clamp down on counterfeiting and piracy,” says Marcus Cohen, RIAA Western Region Director of Investigations.”This historic enforcement action has resulted in heightened consumer awareness and sends a strong message that this kind of illegal activity won’t be tolerated in the state of Utah.”
The SECURE Strike Force was started in 2009 after Rep. Brad Dee and Sen. Scott Jenkins sponsored legislation to target major crimes by undocumented aliens. In less than two years, the strike force has opened 250 criminal cases, made 146 arrests and secured 61 state and federal convictions.
The strike force includes special agents from the Attorney General’s Office and investigators from the Utah Department of Public Safety, Park City Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Enforcement and Removal Operations with assistance from the Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake.