Two members of the hacking group "Team Xecutor" have been arrested and will face charges in Seattle, Washington.
As revealed in the federal indictment, Max Louran, a 48-year-old French national from Avignon, France and Yuanning Chen, 35 years old from Shenzhen, China was arrested as was Gary Bowser, a 51-year-old Canadian in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The indictment has alleged that the individuals led an enterprise that was dedicated to the hacking of consoles – Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS – and the selling of illegal devices.
"These defendants were allegedly leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of US companies," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.
"These arrests show that the department will hold accountable hackers who seek to commandeer and exploit the intellectual property of American companies for financial gain, no matter where they may be located."
Not a game
"Imagine if something you invented was stolen from you and then marketed and sold to customers around the world. That is exactly what Team Xecutor was doing," said Raymond Duda, FBI Special Agent in Charge Seattle.
"This is a perfect example of why the FBI has made the prevention of the theft of intellectual property a priority. These arrests should send a message to would-be pirates that the FBI does not consider these crimes to be a game."
Last month, both Louran and Bowser were arrested abroad in relation to the crimes, while the latter has since been deported to the US, the US will seek to bring Louran in to stand trial.
Both defendants have been charged with 11 felony counts; these include wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Three of the counts, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering are all punishable with up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, conspiracy and trafficking in circumvention devices can carry a sentence of up to five years behind bars.
"Theft of intellectual property hurts US industry, game developers, and exploits legitimate gaming customers. All of which threatens the legitimacy of the commercial video game industry," said Eben Roberts, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Seattle.
"We are committed to working with our international partners to find criminals like these who steal copyrighted material and bring cybercriminals to justice."
The arrests come shortly after Nintendo claimed victory in its lawsuit against UberChips, a website that was selling devices to hack The Japanese firm's hardware. The products sold were created by Team Xecutor.