Memphis man indicted in trafficking of counterfeit airbags from China

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 2:47 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis man has been indicted for allegedly trafficking counterfeit airbags from China, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Mohammed Al-Abadi, 51, of Memphis, was arrested and indicted for one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and one count of causing the criminal transportation of hazardous materials by air carrier.

According to United States Attorney Ritz and the information presented in court, from about October 1, 2019, to January 14, 2021, Al-Abadi imported counterfeit motor vehicle airbag parts from China, assembled them and then sold them on eBay to unsuspecting automobile repair shops and individual customers.

Federal agents recovered more than 2,000 counterfeit airbags and parts from the defendant’s residence and place of business.

“The alleged actions of the defendant have placed unsuspecting motorists and the general public in harm’s way,” said United States Attorney Kevin Ritz. “Vehicle airbags are subject to strict quality standards which must be followed to ensure passenger safety. The defendant’s alleged actions undermined the efforts of the automobile industry and regulatory bodies to keep the public safe.”

If convicted, Al-Abadi faces up to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of two million dollars for trafficking the counterfeit airbags and up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for causing the transportation of hazardous materials by air carrier.

Both charges also carry a period of up to three years’ supervision following release from imprisonment.

“The diligent and extensive investigative work by our special agents led to the discovery of the sale of fraudulent, counterfeit airbags, sold by bypassing regulatory oversight meant to keep dangerous and ineffective products out of the U.S. market,” said Special Agent in Charge Rana Saoud, HSI Nashville. “The defendant will now have to answer for his alleged criminal actions that put consumers’ lives at risk.”

“Counterfeit airbags are not regulated or tested to ensure they meet federal safety standards, and when transported and used by unsuspecting consumers, they can be unsafe and lead to potentially grave consequences,” said Todd Damiani, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Southern Region. “The indictment and arrest handed down demonstrates the continuous coordination with our federal and prosecutorial partners to curtail the flow of these dangerous and illegal automobile products into the United States.”

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General.

Assistant United States Attorney Raney Irwin is prosecuting this case.

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