LAWRENCEVILLE -- A rudimentary traffic stop recently led police to the apparent headquarters of a counterfeit DVD operation in a Lawrenceville home.
Lawrenceville resident Darren Smith, 34, is charged with 10 felony counts of unlawful distribution of recorded material. He remains at the Gwinnett County Jail without bond. Two others are charged but were not incarcerated as of Wednesday.
Smith's legal woes began the night of July 10, when a Gwinnett police patrol officer questioned him about the 1998 Acura Integra he was driving. The vehicle had no front bumper, bald tires and its hood was being held down with fraying bungee cords, according to a police report.
The officer declared the vehicle unsafe and, while impounding it, found more than 300 reproduced movies and 144 CDs inside. Smith told police none of the merchandise was his, the report states.
Most of the confiscated titles -- including "Prometheus," Madagascar 3" and "Men in Black 3" -- were still in theaters. One movie, the fourth installment of the "Ice Age" franchise, had yet to reach theaters at the time. One of two copies of "The Hunger Games" appeared to have been recorded by someone in the back of a theater, the officer noted.
Officers arrested Smith without incident, placed the bootleg movies in evidence and obtained a warrant to search his Valley Club Drive residence, which they did the following day by way of a battering ram when nobody answered the door, reports state.
Inside, police found more than 1,000 more bogus DVDs and a large stack of Fed-Ex receipts with "JP Morgan" and Smith listed as the sender. Those documents indicated that items had been shipped all over the United States the last couple of years, a report states.
In a back bedroom and hallway, police found piles of high-end clothing, shoes and eyewear with sales tags attached, including brand names like Louis Vuitton. Elsewhere police uncovered more than $21,000 cash, a small amount of marijuana and a package labeled "Liquid Saliva," which they determined to be the psychotropic drug compound "salvinorin." the report states.
All the items were inventoried and placed into evidence. Police have charged two other residents -- Troy Thomas and his fiance Pamela Smith, the home's owner -- with drug possession and unlawful distribution of recorded material. Neither were home at the time.