TUPELO – Nike shoes, North Face jackets and Ralph Lauren polo shirts were dumped onto a conveyor belt, carried to a baler and smashed into a compact cube Thursday at Tupelo Recycling.
The items were all knock-offs and were being disposed of by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.
“We would like to give a lot of these items to the poor – they’re clothes and shoes and things they could use – but they’re contraband and we can’t by law so we have to destroy them,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “And, Tupelo Recycling was kind enough to let us come here and we will have them trucked off in bales.”
Tupelo Recycling will be in charge of taking the $750,000 in counterfeit merchandise to the landfill and making sure the items are buried.
The items came from a Chickasaw County couple that pleaded guilty to selling the goods earlier this month.
Wilie McMillian, 46, was sentenced to five years in custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections with one year suspended and $2,550 in fines. His wife, Sophia McMillian, 47, was sentenced to five years with five years suspended.
“We just want to get the message out that this is a crime – a felony,” Hood said. “The guy went to the penitentiary for selling counterfeit goods. Some people want a deal but it hurts somebody and in our economy nationally, there are billions of dollars lost.”
Hood said a lot of the items are shipped from oversees to fund terrorism.
“Just in some of the cases we’re worked, we’ve tracked the items back to organizations in Yemen,” he said.
The Attorney General’s Office presented seized money – $4,867.53 each – to the Okolona Police Department and the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office for their part in the investigation.