Los Angeles clothing importer admits skirting $6.4 million in tariffs

A Los Angeles County clothing brand has agreed to plead guilty to submitting false customs forms to evade nearly $6.4 million in customs duties and doing business with a woman linked to the drug cartel. drug from Sinaloa, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Ghacham Inc. and a company executive, Mohamed Daoud Ghacham, 38, will both plead guilty to conspiring to smuggle false and fraudulent paperwork through customs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Ghacham, who managed Paramount’s international business affairs, submitted false documents that understated the clothes the company imported, allowing him to avoid paying the full amount of customs duties owed, according to court documents. The Chinese suppliers provided Ghacham with two invoices at its request: one with the correct amount Ghacham Inc. paid for the goods, which the company kept in its books, and a second invoice with a lower price.

Over 10 years, imported items were undervalued by more than $32 million, and Ghacham and his company, which sold clothes under the Platini brand, avoided paying nearly $6.4 million in customs duties. customs, prosecutors said.

Ghacham Inc. also agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The company has admitted doing business with Maria Tiburcia Cázares Pérez, the sister of Sinaloa cartel figure Victor Emilio Cázares Salazar, who was sentenced in 2016 to 15 years in prison for shipping tons of cocaine from Colombian and Venezuelan producers. to Mexico and distributed the drugs. across the United States.

Cázares Pérez has been designated a drug trafficker and subject to economic sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which bars people and companies in the United States from doing business with those on the list.

In 2006, Cázares Pérez and Ghacham Inc. entered into a joint venture called “Platini Jeans Cougar De Mexico Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada de Capital Variable” or Platini Mexico, prosecutors said. Although agents informed the president of Ghacham Inc. the following year about federal law prohibiting the business venture, prosecutors said the professional relationship continued through February 2021.

With their guilty pleas, Ghacham Inc. will face a maximum legal fine of $10.5 million and five years probation, and Mohamed Ghacham will face up to five years in federal prison.

Ghacham Inc. did not respond to an email seeking comment.