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$1.8 million in counterfeit goods seized in Friday's raid
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Local law enforcement officials seized $1.8 million in counterfeit merchandise during the Friday night raid of the International Merchandise Mart and Storage.

Newton County Sheriff's Captain Doug Kitchens said the merchandise, a combination of clothing, jewelry, shoes, CDs and DVDs, filled three large Budget Rental trucks.

"I don't know if anybody really knew there would be that much there," Kitchens said.

A total of 35 people were arrested in the raid, 31 of whom were vendors in at the indoor storage facility.

Kitchens said it was unclear yet whether those arrested would face felony or misdemeanor charges of forgery or counterfeiting of trademarks, service marks or copyrighted or registered designs. To be charged with a felony, a person must possess at least $10,000 of the merchandise.

The takedown was the culmination of a four month joint investigation between the NCSO, the Covington Police Department and the Covington/Newton Special Investigations Unit that began with complaints by local citizens and two private investigators. One of the investigators represents clothing companies while the other man works for Paramount Pictures.

During the investigation, undercover officers were utilized to secure enough evidence for search warrants, Kitchens said. Because of the scope of the investigation and the sheer size of the facility, more than 100 officers participated in the raid.

The investigators entered the building with approximately 50 warrants and were able to obtain enough evidence during the raid to secure additional warrants for a total of 70 warrants served. The additional warrants covered other storage units and some the vendors' vehicles.

The seized merchandise is currently being held in an undisclosed warehouse, Kitchens said. After the cases have been tried, the items will all be destroyed.

In addition to the vendors, Michael Curtis, who served as a security officer at the mart, was arrested for carrying a pistol without a license.

Elroy Graham was also arrested at the mart and charged with marijuana possession after authorities reportedly spotted him attempting to dispose of the drugs.

Two customers were also arrested at the scene for outstanding probation violation warrants.