US pair held for alleged piracy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 July, 2004, 12:00am

They are accused of counterfeiting thousands of DVDs

Two US citizens have been arrested in Shanghai on suspicion of being the ringleaders of an international DVD-pirating operation, police and state media said yesterday.

Officers arrested the two, Randolph Hobson Guthrie and Cody Abram Thrush, on July 1 acting on a tip-off from US authorities, according to a police statement and a Xinhua report. Four others also were arrested.

The gang allegedly used the internet to sell more than 100,000 pirated DVDs to customers in a number of countries - including 20,000 discs in the United States alone. Other countries included Australia, Britain and Canada.

A police raid netted 210,000 pirated DVDs, as well as equipment such as computers, telephones and envelopes. Police found pirated DVDs stored in three locations. Mainland authorities froze accounts holding US$67,000 and 220,000 yuan.

'This is the first time Chinese public security departments and US immigration and customs enforcement departments have co-operated successfully,' an official of the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the Ministry of Public Security was quoted as saying.

In April, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the US Department of Homeland Security informed mainland officials about the case.

A spokesman for the US consulate in Shanghai confirmed the detention of the two American citizens, and said the pair had been visited by a representative of the US government.

He could not say whether the two would be tried on the mainland or sent back to the United States. 'The details of this case aren't known because it's an ongoing investigation,' the spokesman said.

Piracy of computer software, movies and audio recordings is rampant on the mainland, although the government has pledged to tighten regulations.

Additional reporting by Bill Savadove in Shanghai