Five San Diego County residents were among eleven people charged this week with illegally packaging, counterfeiting, and distributing 5-Hour Energy drinks in the United States.
Joseph and Adriana Shayota and Kevin and Fadi Attiq of El Cajon, and Mario Ramirez of San Diego, have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, and introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce. Six others located elsewhere were charged last week, according to a federal indictment unsealed June 18.
The two Shayotas, who are married, were initially hired to distribute 5-Hour Energy, a caffeine booster, in Mexico. The company that makes and controls the product, Indiana-based Living Essentials, provided Spanish-language materials for the sales effort in Mexico. The alleged conspirators then tried to distribute the goods in the United States at a higher price, but the language barrier blocked them. So, according to the indictment, the group began producing counterfeit labels and boxes for United States sales.
By 2012, the group was counterfeiting the product with untrained personnel under unsanitary conditions, according to the indictment. From late 2011 to October of 2012, the defendants allegedly ordered more than seven million counterfeit label sleeves.