A Chinese national has been arrested by federal authorities in Chattanooga and charged with manufacturing and selling counterfeit airbags.
Dai Zhensong appeared before Federal Magistrate Court Judge Bill Carter and was ordered to remain in custody.
Customs officials said Zhensong last Wednesday was found to have violated laws on trafficking in counterfeit goods. Authorities said it was learned that he is one of three owners of Guangzhou Global Auto Parts International Group located in Guangzhou City, China. Zhensong is also the manager of the international department, it was stated.
The firm manufactures about 5,000 items per month for several different types of airbags, it was stated.
Officials said on Sept. 16, six boxes containing 68 airbags origination from the Chinese company and being shipped to an address in Chattanooga were intercepted. The items were determined by an attorney for Honda to be counterfeit airbags.
The airbags were delivered to 3929 Manor Road in Chattanooga.
Officials said the seized airbags also included ones for Toyota, BMW, Lexus and Audi - all having U.S. trademarks.
Zhensong entered the U.S. on Oct. 4 and traveled to Chattanooga to meet with customers and discuss the sale of additional counterfeit airbags and other auto parts, Customs officials said.
He was interviewed last Wednesday. Authorities said Zhensong admitted that he orders a genuine auto airbag for approximately $1,000 and "reverse engineers them." The original product is torn down and rebuilt with the mechanisms and materials supplied and produced by his company in China.
He said molds are produced using each original product part, with the exception of the generator, which is purchased from another business in China. He said trademark emblems are purchased through Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW and other dealerships in China for about $15 each.
The Chinese firm then completely assembles an airbag using the trademark symbol on each airbag. He said the items are advertised on the company website, where the trademark symbols are blurred. He said that was because it is a trademark violation and it is illegal to have the symbols advertised.
Zhensong said he is able to sell the counterfeit airbags internationally for from $50 to $70 each.