The Shell station in Cathedral City on Dinah Shore and Date Palm became the focal point of an investigation on Wednesday. Detectives from the Cathedral City police department spent nearly 8 hours at the store looking into a tip about the sale of counterfeit items. The store carries several different name brands like Gucci, Armani and Louis Vuitton, selling them for a fraction of the designer price. "Twenty dollars? To me, they're not real," said Wendy Morales.
CCPD says the bags aren't real. Investigators shut down the store to serve a search warrant and get a closer look at the counterfeit items. "This doesn't meet the criteria to be genuine," said Mark Wasserkrug, a compliance coordinator for the police department. "So, from that standpoint, we know this is not a product that is a true designer product."
The detectives found and seized bags, wallets, professional jerseys and hats. All of them counterfeit and all part of a growing money grab by criminals. "Counterfeit merchandise represents a larger cash flow to the criminal than does the narcotics industry," said Wasserkrug.
While the police caught and stopped the counterfeit items from leaving the Shell station, they say its just a tiny piece of a global problem. "It generally starts in China, then works its way here," said Wasserkrug. "It helps feed the pipeline to everything from terrorism to organized crime."
"This started as a tip and know it was a good tip," said Wasserkrug. "Not all tips are good tips, but we like to look at them all."
The owner of the store did not show up, despite multiple requests from the police department. They instead sent a lawyer.