Police seize 5 tons of counterfeit ‘branded’ goods worth 300 million euros

Police seize 5 tons of counterfeit ‘branded’ goods worth 300 million euros

The National Police, in a joint operation with Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency, have dealt a new blow to counterfeiters in the Canary Islands after seizing more than five tons of imitation clothing and fashion accessories labelled as exclusive brands, by raiding a distribution network that operated in the Islands.

This is the largest intervention of counterfeit merchandise recorded to date in Europe, and has resulted in 17 arrests, the search of 14 shops, four warehouses, and three residential properties, and included the seizure of 70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles.

According to the estimation by the specialized lawyers representing the international brands, this haul could have a value of more than 300 million euros. Investigations began after learning of the existence of several businesses in Tenerife, allegedly dedicated to the sale of counterfeit goods, which had the same supplier based in Fuerteventura, who turned out to be the leaders in the criminal structure of the operation.

The police operation called DJANGO, which included Europol, resulted in the dismantling of a criminal organization specializing in the large-scale import, distribution and marketing of counterfeit products of exclusive brands operating on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura.

The organization acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate in Madrid, and marketed them in tourist areas, taking advantage of the presence of a large population there for short period.

The investigation began in September 2021 by the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit of the Provincial Brigade of the Judicial Police and the National Police, after they became aware of a wholesale point for counterfeit leather goods in the south of Tenerife.

Surveillance and follow-up work led to locating the person in charge of it, observing how he sold these products to various individuals, both for street vending and for sale in shops and markets. After that, steps were taken with the parcel companies to determine that shipments were coming from Fuerteventura, organised by several citizens of Chinese origin who make up the leadership of the organization.

Following this, the Customs Surveillance Service joined the operation, confirming that there were numerous products in Customs in the name of the Fuerteventura distributor, which lead to detailed monitoring of their activity.

From Fuerteventura, the distributor sent products to other points on the island itself and to Tenerife, where his contact distributed and marketed them on the island through his businesses. The investigation was then registered in the Court of Instruction number 4 of Arona, in the south of Tenerife, which instructs preliminary proceedings for such purposes.

Police seize 5 tons of counterfeit ‘branded’ goods worth 300 million euros

Given the magnitude of the operation, in mid-June, it became necessary to establish a larger team to carry out raids, increase surveillance, and dismantle the activity.

In total, nearly a hundred National Police officers from different units in Fuerteventura and Tenerife, as well as Customs Surveillance officers and canine units took part in simultaneous raids.

Searches were carried out in three homes, four warehouses, and 14 shops on both islands, where more than 70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles were seized, sealing more than five tons of counterfeit products of recognized prestige brands, among which were bags, assorted leather goods, clothing, sunglasses, watches, and various fashion accessories.

As a result of these actions, 17 people were arrested for the alleged crimes of belonging to a criminal organization, against industrial property, and money laundering. With the organization dismantled, investigations into money laundering continue.

Until now, more than 250,000 counterfeits have been intervened in the Canary Islands, valued at more than 222 million euros, pending analysis of the material contained in two warehouses whose entry and registration is pending and already authorized by a judge.