ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT CHARGED IN INTERNATIONAL PIRACY RING
Monday, May 17, 2010— A Chicago woman is in the custody of federal immigration agents after she was charged for her role in an international operation selling illegal DVDs, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Monday.
Akpezi Mokedi, 34, is charged with unlawful use of unidentified sound or audio/visual recordings, which is a felony. Almost 6,500 pirated DVDs were seized from her apartment in the 5800 block of North Sheridan Road.
Records show Mokedi was obtaining the DVDs by the caseload on an almost daily basis from an illegal overseas operation. She would set up online accounts to sell the DVDs, which varied in quality, to those searching popular shopping websites, including Amazon, for specific shows. Mokedi appeared to specialize in providing entire box sets of television shows, as she had hundreds of box sets of shows such as “Lost,” “Criminal Minds,” “One Tree Hill” and “House,” among others. As police opened boxes shipped to Mokedi, they also found hundreds of exercise, music and history box sets.
Mokedi is a Nigerian national who came to Chicago in 2001 on a student visa to study for a computer science degree. She obtained her degree in 2007 and has not been enrolled as a student since, but has continued living in the United States illegally.
Sheriff’s investigators were alerted to her illegal operation thanks to a tip from agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.
Though agents had flagged and seized many of the boxes being shipped to Mokedi upon their entry to the U.S., she was having so many boxes shipped to her the agents could not stop every one.
Those agents alerted sheriff’s police investigators, who worked to set up a controlled delivery of illegal DVDs to her apartment on May 10. After she accepted the shipment, investigators found three computers and about 25 shipped boxes, each addressed to Mokedi and each filled with illegal DVDs.
Mokedi was arrested and charged last Tuesday. Though investigators seized all DVDs from her apartment, they also found a key to a storage facility in her possession. When investigators raided that storage unit, they found it had been emptied. Also, since her arrest, all of Mokedi’s online postings have been taken down and someone attempted to delete any online links to her operation.
Though Mokedi briefly came in the Cook County Jail, she was able to post the required 10 percent of her $10,000 bond. But as soon as she posted that bond, she was taken into custody by ICE agents. She is now set to be deported later this week.
Mokedi’s next court date is set for Tuesday at the county court facility at Belmont and Western in Chicago. Because of her immigration status and pending deportation, it is not likely she will appear and if she fails to show, investigators will ask a judge to issue a warrant for her arrest.
If she ever attempts to enter the country again, she will be denied entry due to that warrant.