Six Indicted for Violations Involving the Sale of Stolen Products Including Thousands of Cases of Baby Formula
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 19, 2012|
LOS ANGELES—Five of six people arrested this morning were charged for their roles in conspiracies to purchase stolen infant formula in order to resell the products to individuals and businesses across the nation at significantly higher prices. A sixth individual was arrested related to the transport and sale of stolen infant formula but was not charged with being a member of the conspiracies.
A 22-count indictment returned under seal on Tuesday, July 17, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charges six defendants with federal violations including:
- conspiracy, Title 18, U.S.C., Section 371
- transportation of stolen goods: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2314
- possession, sale, and receipt of stolen goods: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2315
- aiding and abetting and causing an act to be done: Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2
The defendants named in the indictment, listed below, were arrested this morning without incident.
- Saad Yohanan, 55, of San Diego
- Yusuf Ghazi Abu Dawas, a.k.a. Joseph Dawas, 33, of Escondido
- Anas Abudawwas, a.k.a. Adam Abudawwas, 28, of Escondido
- Eyad Ibrahim Abu Dawas, a.k.a. Dave Dawas, 41, of Encinitas
- Ashraf Sulaiman, 38, of Alhambra
- Khair Zaben, 48, of Fontana
The indictment charges five of the defendants for their roles in conspiracies to purchase stolen infant formula from an individual they believed to be a supplier of stolen goods. The supplier, a federal agent acting in an undercover capacity, arranged for and executed the sale of thousands of cases of infant formula and other items to the defendants. The indictment outlines a series of overt acts that form the basis for the conspiracies.
The indictment alleges the defendants believed the merchandise they purchased and resold was stolen and that the supplier (the undercover agent) had access to the stolen merchandise based on ties to a freight forwarding company that makes deliveries across the United States.
In addition to today’s arrests,10 federal search warrants were served by the investigative agencies throughout Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties. The government also seized more than $750,000 from bank accounts, as well as cases of baby formula with an estimated value of more than $500,000.
The items proffered to defendants during undercover meetings are legitimate products delivered directly by the manufacturer to law enforcement to assist in the investigation. Throughout this case, investigators found no counterfeit products or evidence of tampering that posed a risk to public safety during the illicit purchase, transfer, or sale of products alleged in the indictments.
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty for each count ranging from 5 to 10 years in federal prison. The defendants are also subject to forfeiture of money or real estate derived from the proceeds of the alleged offenses, if convicted.
This continuing investigation is being conducted by the Los Angeles and San Diego Divisions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; United States Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; the Los Angeles Police Department; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Considerable assistance was also provided by private organizations throughout this investigation.
The defendants, who are being arraigned this afternoon in United States District Court, will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.