POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Homeland Security Agents said Friday they busted a Polk County crime ring for a third time, confiscating 8,000 counterfeit DVDs. The movies included recent releases like Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables.
The first seizure took place July 27, 2011, and involved 30,000 DVDs. The second came on April 24, 2012, and included 113,000 DVDs.
Thursday's seizure ended with 8,000 DVDs, $120,000 in US currency, and just under $170,000 in bank accounts.
"The sale of these DVDs could be funneled back to terrorist organizations which could, in turn, hurt the United States," explained Homeland Security Group Supervisor Fred Butler.
Agents traced the DVDs to China, sold by Jian Huang to bulk distributors in the US.
Seven people now face federal charges for profits that surpassed a half-million dollars. They include Huang as well as his co-conspirators: Alex Lee Lim of Lakeland, Robert Edmond Mattie of Winter Haven, James William Ray of Bartow, Donald Kenneth Brown, Jr. of Lakeland, Martin William Grenfell of Lakeland, and Christopher Alexander T. Clark of Lakeland.
The six Polk County residents bought the DVDs for a little more than $1.
"And they were selling them for roughly $12 so they were making a significant profit off an illegal activity," Butler said.
According to HSI, some of the men made $40,000 every two weeks, which they used to support other criminal activity from narcotics to a variety of fraud.
As they continue to dig deeper, agents expect to find even more.
"This is not the end. We do know there are additional violators out there and we will move forward to locate, find, and prosecute those involved in counterfeit DVDs," Butler said.