$143 million worth of counterfeit network computer seized by feds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government said Thursday that it has won 30 felony convictions and seized $143 million worth of counterfeit network computer equipment manufactured in China.

The law enforcement initiative is called Operation Network Raider.

The announcement by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security came as a Saudi citizen living in Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced to 51 months in prison. He was ordered to pay $119,400 in restitution to Cisco Systems Inc., whose network hardware is a prime target of counterfeiters.

Ehab Ashoor, 49, bought counterfeit Cisco equipment from an online vendor in China intending to sell it to the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq for transmitting troop movements, relaying intelligence and maintaining security for a military base west of Fallujah, according to evidence at Ashoor's trial.

"Counterfeit products pose safety risks for unknowing users," said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's criminal division.

"Anything that has even the potential to negatively impact our armed forces or any unsuspecting consumer is simply unacceptable," Breuer said of the two-year law enforcement operation. "They aren't what they purport to be and haven't undergone the same quality control and testing as the legitimate products."

Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have seized more than 94,000 counterfeit Cisco network components and labels worth more than $86 million.

The FBI was part of the cooperative effort.

U.S. law enforcement authorities are working with China's Ministry of Public Security to prevent the export of counterfeit hardware.