24 July 2013Trademarks

Interpol swoops on global counterfeiters

International police agency Interpol has seized 24 million fake goods in a global crackdown on counterfeiting and illicit trading.

The goods, equating to nearly $133 million in retail value, were seized during raids across the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe in May and June.

Interpol, which revealed the news on July 18, said counterfeit alcohol, cooking oils and engines were some of the products seized.

“These and other fake and illicit products represent a significant risk to unsuspecting members of the public who have no idea that what they are buying has not been legally produced or with any safety controls,” said Michael Ellis, head of Interpol’s trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting unit.

The operation in China, the first led by Interpol into illicit trading there, shut down an entire network producing shampoo and toothpaste in the south of the country. In the north, an organised crime network responsible for producing fake shavers was dismantled, with nearly 7 million goods seized.

Other highlights included the seizure of nearly 12 million packets of fake cigarettes in Turkey and the closure of two distilleries producing large quantities of rip-off branded alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in Colombia.

Interpol and its participating law enforcement agencies and brand owners should be congratulated for their extraordinary efforts, said Joseph Gioconda, founder of Gioconda Law Group PLLC in New York.

“The impressive Interpol raids serve as a sobering reminder of the breathtaking resources possessed by the organised criminals who are operating sophisticated counterfeiting networks. Dozens of factories, distribution centres, even trains and aeroplanes, were shut down as part of the coordinated raids. Yet, this infrastructure is just the tip of the iceberg.”

He added: “The return on profit from product counterfeiting exceeds that of trading in illegal narcotics, with lower risk of detection and prosecution. Counterfeiters will likely absorb these losses and continue to exploit their business model. A sustained effort is therefore necessary to reduce the profitability of illicit trade.”

As part of the crackdown, overseen by Interpol’s trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting unit, which was established in June 2012, more than 6,000 people were arrested while illegal weapons were also seized.

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