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Suspected counterfeit goods seized in mall raid

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Clayton County Police arrested several people Thursday, during a raid at the Tara Discount Mall in Jonesboro, where alleged counterfeit merchandise was being sold.

Officers executed search warrants on eight booths at the flea market, which is located at 281 Upper Riverdale Road, around 3:15 p.m.

"We have clothing, shoes, purses, and DVDs," said Lt. Rebecca Brown, a spokesperson for the police department. "We've had complaints about counterfeit DVDs sold, and retail clothing. Some undercover people came in, and did some buys at some of the businesses," she said. Brown added that the undercover purchases were made last week.

"They had enough probable cause to obtain search warrants," she said. "They got those search warrants, which were executed today. Brown said that an estimated $757,000 worth of forged trademark articles and unauthorized movie recordings were recovered.

"Upon arrival at the incident location, all but one of the booths were closed," Brown said. She said police believe the booth operators were somehow tipped off that a raid was about to take place. "According to some of the people around, they got word, so most of the businesses were closed when we came in," she said.

"We're going after the business licenses, so that they cannot operate, and will still obtain [arrest] warrants for the business owners," she added.

Three people were arrested at the IRSA Mix Tapes booth and taken to the Clayton County Jail, according to Brown. Jeff Lacroix, 23, and Cathy Lacroix, 20, were arrested and charged with trademark copyright violations and counterfeit recording. Lazarius Barber, 20, was charged with obstruction, Brown said.

Three additional persons, who allegedly made deliveries of counterfeit merchandise Thursday, also were arrested, according to Clayton County Police Chief Jeff Turner. "We got three people in trucks that were arrested, who came here and made a delivery, and then left. We pulled them over before the rest of us came in," Turner said.

"We had undercover officers inside, who witnessed the delivery of illegal merchandise," he said. The names of the three persons arrested for delivering the merchandise were not available.

Also arrested in connection with the raid were: Moussa Wage, 50, for alleged forged trademark violations; Seyon Brown, 20, on a drug charge; Ibrahima Barry, 19, on a counterfeit merchandise charge; Sorie Barrie, 20, on charges of obstruction, loitering and forged trademark violations; and Mohamed Toure, 46, for allegedly driving while suspended, and failure to maintain lane.

"Let this serve as a message to anyone who is operating an illegal business in Clayton County," said Turner. "We're going to take your merchandise, take your business license, and arrest you. Operating an illegal business in Clayton County will not be tolerated."

"I just saw them swoop in," said Shelvette Lawson, 21, of Lithonia, who owns a women's clothing booth, which was not raided by police. "All the popular booths got hit. It kind of hurts business for us. Nobody's going to come over here now," Lawson said.

Lawson said he chooses not to sell counterfeit merchandise. "I don't want to get arrested. I'm too young to go to jail, and you can't get rich selling fake merchandise the rest of your life," he said.