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Philadelphia Auto Mechanic Sentenced For Hazardous Materials Violations in Scheme to Import Counterfeit Airbags from China

On August 3, 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania sentenced Philadelphia auto mechanic Emiliano Rodriguez to 1 day of incarceration, 36 months of supervised release including 21 months of home detention, and a $200 court assessment.
 
On February 9, 2023, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to two counts of causing the delivery of hazardous materials by air carrier in connection with a scheme to install counterfeit airbags in motor vehicles. Rodriguez was indicted in January 2022 for trafficking counterfeit airbag systems and components, including airbag inflators, which are classified as hazardous materials pursuant to DOT regulations. Rodriguez caused counterfeit airbag inflators, intentionally mislabeled as "metal bracket" and "plastic panel," to be shipped from China to Philadelphia by air without proper hazardous materials classifications, labeling, and packaging, in violation of DOT's hazardous materials regulations. Counterfeit airbags have consistently malfunctioned in ways ranging from non-deployment to the expulsion of metal shrapnel during deployment.
 
DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation with Homeland Security Investigations with substantial assistance provided by Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.