A SMUGGLER who masterminded a £1million scam bringing fake designer trainers into Britain was busted by Harrow Council.
Zheng Liang, 32, pleaded guilty to trademark offences after an investigation uncovered 17,000 pairs of counterfeit running shoes being stored at units in and around London.
It was the largest quantity of fakes ever recovered from one man.
The phoney Nike and Y-3 trainers had a street-value of more than £1million.
Liang was jailed for three years at Harrow Crown Court on Thursday.
A tip-off that he was storing goods that had been smuggled from China at units in Harrow and Hatch End led to an investigation by Brent and Harrow Council Trading Standards teams.
No trainers were found at these addresses, but evidence was recovered at his rented flat in Alexandra Road, Watford.
During the search officers also found £8,000 in cash, but Liang was unable to explain where it had come from.
Liang, who is also known as Feng Lian, moved to England in 2006 but is not legally registered under either name in this country.
It is believed the illegal immigrant, who is married and has an 18-month old son, was one of the country's biggest wholesalers, responsible for a large percentage of poor-quality fake trainers sold in the UK.
Sentencing Liang, Judge Bernard Richmond QC, said: "I understand that life back home was probably very tough and I understand that you probably wanted to do the best for you and for your young family.
"But you engaged unlawfully in a very well organised and sophisticated business importing and selling fake trainers.
"You came here illegally and what you have done over the last few months has effectively deceived everybody and that cannot be tolerated."
Other storage units were raided by officers from trading standards departments in Berkshire and Woolwich, South London.
Liang has already served 132 days in custody, which will be deducted from his sentence. He will have to serve at least half of the sentence in prison and remain on licence for the rest.
Bill Bilon, director of Brent and Harrow Council Trading Standards, said: "The fake trainers may seem like a bargain, looking like the real thing, but they are actually poor quality and will fall apart after only a short time."