LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Authorities say nine people have been indicted on charges of smuggling and money laundering tied to a denim-importing scheme that cost the government at least $2 million in tax revenue.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that the indictments were handed down in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Officials say the defendants skirted customs duties, filed fraudulent paperwork and deliberately misclassified merchandise in a scheme to illegally import more than $12 million in Chinese-made clothing over the last two years. Authorities say most of the clothing in the 200 shipments was denim.

Among those charged is Wei “Julia” Lai, who owned a foreign trade zone based in the city of Industry. Lai’s attorney Errol Stambler says she will plead not guilty at a hearing next Monday.

Also indicted are: Joel Elder, 29, of Long Beach; Jianying “jonathan” Huang, 42; Xiaoqiong “Joan” Hou, 43, of Diamond Bar; Rebecca Ho, 39, of Alhambra; Yuling Wang, 43, of Walnut; Keen “Alveen” Wai Choo, 40, of Rowland Heights; Taylor “David” Wong, 49, of Arcadia; and Tsu “Nick” Wei Lin, 41, of Arcadia.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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