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Texas Vape Shop Owner Pleads Guilty to Unlawful Importation of Counterfeit Vaping Products

Muhammad Uzair Khalid admitted that he regularly communicated with Chinese manufacturers

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GARLAND, TX- A Garland vape shop owner has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of importing counterfeit vaping projects, US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad E. Meacham announced on November 24.

Muhammad Khalid Uzair Khalid, 36, of Garland, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, November 23 to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

In the plea papers, Uzair admitted that between October 2017 and November 2019, he knowingly and illegally imported counterfeit vaping-related items from China, including vape pens and vape-related labels, boxes, and bags.

Uzair’s shop was raided in November 2019 by law enforcement agents as part of a joint investigation into E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) that involved the CDC, FDA, state and local health departments, and other clinical and health partners.
During the raid, agents discovered several items that tested positive for THC and an injector mechanism with an amber substance containing vitamin E acetate.

Uzair admitted that he regularly communicated with Chinese manufacturers about the production, sale, and importation of counterfeit vaping products.

In particular, Uzair and the manufacturers discussed methods to imitate the branding and logos of well-known American vape companies and sold counterfeit products meant to imitate them. These counterfeit products, and others, were sold at his Garland store.

“Our investigation made clear that we needed to take swift action against counterfeit vaping-related items,” said US Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas. “The Justice Department will not tolerate the importation of these types of black-market goods.”

Health authorities say that these injuries may be linked to products containing vitamin E acetate and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the main active substances in cannabis that is illegal under state and federal law.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver took the defendant’s guilty plea in federal court in Dallas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phelesa M. Guy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and Trial Attorneys Speare Hodges and Patrick Runkle of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch are prosecuting the case. This matter was primarily investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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