MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Law enforcement officials busted a fake vape scheme on Long Island.
Officials raided a home on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac just off busy Jerusalem Avenue in East Meadow on Friday. They confiscated millions in cash and counterfeit vaping products.
“They, like, had deliveries. I saw, like, cars coming, bringing boxes,” neighbor Lucy Silva said.
“They just seemed like a very nice family. They pretty much keep to themselves,” neighbor Peter Morra told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
McLogan: “Did you suspect, see or hear any of this vaping next door?”
Morra: “No, nothing at all.”
Fifty-eight-year-old Ali Asghar and his two sons, 33-year-old Ali Zar and 35-year-old Ali Moosa, have all been charged with trademark counterfeiting.
The feds and Nassau Police report they got wind of the operation in January at Kennedy Airport.
“A shipment coming from China was identified as belonging to Mr. Asghar,” Frank Russo, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said.
“Approximately $4 million dollars of sales that were generated. They advertised on social media,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Their counterfeit products were also sold in stores owned by the suspects in East Meadow, Levittown, Bellerose and Commack.
Managers claim they had no idea and no one complained about the products.
Law enforcement officials say thousands of young people were at risk of using the counterfeit e-cigarettes.
“Fifty percent of our middle school kids vape today,” Ryder said.
“When you add in this counterfeit aspect to it, where you don’t know what’s in it, you don’t know where it’s coming from or anything about it, the risks become even more severe, especially when it relates to young people,” Dr. Jeffery Reynolds, of the Family and Children’s Association, said.
The attorney representing the father and son claims prosecutors will be unable to prove his clients knowingly purchased and distributed illegal products.
“I hope all parents are making note of this and the real danger of these kinds of products,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
Fans of vaping who spoke to CBS2 say they have not gotten sick and claim smoking e-cigarettes weans them off tobacco.
Investigators are having the seized products tested for poisons.
The East Meadow father and his two sons pleaded not guilty. They’re each being held on $25,000 bond and ordered to surrender their passports.