A Border Patrol agent was arrested last month for selling counterfeit luxury watches and could face federal charges.
Martin Macias, 31, is accused of selling counterfeit Rolex, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and Hublot watches during two undercover stings earlier this year, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday, citing a search warrant affidavit unsealed in San Diego federal court last week. Macias earned about $320 per counterfeit watch, which if genuine would have sold for between $10,000 and $79,000.
When Macias was arrested Aug. 2 following a second undercover sale, he allegedly told sheriff’s deputies “I’m going to lose my job.” Macias’ current employment status is unknown.
Authorities began investigating Macias in May after private investigators met with him at the Target store in Mission Valley to buy Rolex watches advertised on Craigslist, the Union-Tribune reported. The private investigators were from a company called Investigative Consultants that helps brands detect counterfeit goods and protect their trademarks.
At the May 25 meeting, Macias allegedly showed the private investigators a display case filled with 14 high-end counterfeits — four Audemars Piguet, four Cartier and six Rolex — and confirmed they were fake. He said a man named Carlos provided him with the watches, and a private investigator bought a Rolex for $320.
After their meeting with Macias, the investigators passed on the information they’d gleaned — including the license plate number of Macias’ white Volkswagen — to special investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. While conducting an investigation, a sheriff’s detective discovered the seller, who had identified himself only as Martin, might be a Border Patrol agent.
Macias allegedly met with the private investigator a second time on Aug. 2 in Chula Vista promising to have five Rolex watches, the newspaper reporter. When he arrived, this time driving a black Chevrolet pickup, he allegedly had six Audemars Piguet, four Rolex, two Hublot, one Armani and one child’s Casio.
Sheriff’s detectives arrested Macias during the second meeting on state charges and he was released on $10,000 bail, according to the Union-Tribune. The search warrant affidavit said Macias was never charged with crimes in state court, but federal prosecutors are considering charges of trafficking counterfeit goods.
Macias reportedly told investigators that the meetings with the private investigator in May and August were the only two times he’d sold the counterfeits and said a friend in Mexico is the one who set up the sales on websites like Craigslist and Offer Up, the newspaper reported. Macias also allegedly said he knew what he was doing was illegal, but he likened it to a petty crime like running a red light.
No counterfeit goods were found during a search of Macias’ home, according to the affidavit.
—City News Service