Nine arrested in raid on Montana Charlie’s Flea Market; investigators seize thousands of illegally recorded CD’s, DVD’s

August 28

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced the arrest of nine people Sunday on charges of selling illegal CDs and DVDs from booths at the Montana Charlie’s flea market on Illinois 53 in Bolingbrook.

The state’s attorney’s office headed up the one-month investigation in cooperation with Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas as well as investigators from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Pirated DVDs included hit movies such as “Snakes on a Plane,” “World Trade Center” and “Miami Vice,” all of which are currently in their initial release in theaters. The illegal music CDs featured many Latino stars including popular singer Olga Tanon.

In addition to the arrests, police seized nearly 25,000 compact discs, 1,500 DVDs and four vehicles at the Bolingbrook flea market. The illegal CDs and DVDs are valued at an estimated $405,000 in legal product.

“These arrests cripple local profiteers who push illegally recorded movies and videos,” Glasgow said. “We will continue to work vigorously with the movie and recording industries to take down scam artists who steal and sell illegally reproduced and second-rate recordings. Will County consumers are ripped off in the form of higher prices for legitimately purchased entertainment as a result of industry losses suffered at the hands of these pernicious pirates.”

Undercover investigators with the state’s attorney’s office purchased the illegal CDs and DVDs on several occasions in the month leading up to Sunday’s raid. They also purchased illegal CDs and DVDs on several occasions Sunday before arresting the merchants.

“The worldwide motion picture industry lost $18.2 billion in 2005 as a result of piracy – more than $11 billion of which is attributed to bootlegged and counterfeit DVDs like the ones recovered at Montana Charlie’s Flea Market,” said Mike Robinson, Vice President and Director of U.S. Anti-Piracy Operations for the MPAA. “The replication and distribution of illegal DVDs is highly lucrative, and in many cases criminal networks use counterfeit DVD sales to support other criminal activity. Consumers should be aware that when they purchase pirated products they may be supporting a host of other illegal activities such as narcotics or illegal gun sales, gang activity and more. I applaud the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Will County Sheriff’s Department for their diligence in putting nine movie thieves out of business.”

MPAA and RIAA officials approached investigators from both Glasgow’s and Kaupas’ offices. The investigation was headed by Detectives Pete Piazza, Daniel Procarione and Michael Kelley. The three detectives work for the state’s attorney under a cooperative agreement with Kaupas.

“We’ve had a long-standing and productive working relationship with Sheriff Kaupas that has enabled us to conduct specialized investigations of illegal activities that damage our economy and defraud consumers,” Glasgow said.

The CDs typically are reproduced in illegal “burn labs” or pressed at illegal plants. Many of the CDs are produced in Mexico or Southern California. The Chicago area is a major distribution point for pirated Latino music.

The DVDs are illegally recorded by handheld video recording devices smuggled into theaters. They also are downloaded unlawfully from illegal Web sites.

The investigation is continuing and other arrests are possible. Those who were arrested Sunday were booked into the Will County Jail.

Arrested and charged with unlawful use of unidentified audio or visual recordings were: Maria Tapia, 29, of 944 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago; Christina Bolonos, 30, address unknown; Daniel Guzman, 18, 4835 S. Wood, Chicago; Guillermo Alvarez, 24, of 5646 S. Fairfield, Chicago; John E. Santiago, 62, of 5901 N. Ruby St., Rosemont; Guillermo Ramos, 40, of 2204 Smith Road, Aurora; Francisco Castaneda, 41, of 5106 Sophia, East Chicago, Ind.; and Martin Castaneda, 39, of 5106 Sophia, East Chicago, Ind.

Unlawful use of unidentified audio or visual recordings is a Class 4 felony that carries a possible prison sentence of 1-3 years and a $25,000 fine upon conviction.

Samuel Rojas-Paramo, 19, of 1229 S. 50th Ave., Cicero, was arrested and charged with attempted unlawful use of unidentified audio or visual recordings. This is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines upon conviction.

Additional charges against Christina Bolonos, Daniel Guzman and Guillermo Ramos include unauthorized use of a trademark, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that a charge is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.