LYON, France, Monday June 15, 2015 – Fake electrical goods in Trinidad and Tobago, fake brand-name cigars in Cuba, and t-shirts and jeans in Curaçao were among $60 million in counterfeit items seized in a two-week operation across the Americas and the Caribbean.
Those goods, and much more in a total of 19 countries, were seized in the operation coordinated by the Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit of INTERPOL, the international police, and supported by the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council late last month.
In a statement issued earlier this month, INTERPOL said car parts, fuel, food, detergent, cigars, shampoo and steel were among the other fake goods confiscated during Operation Maya II, which involved more than 2,000 interventions by police, customs, investigators and Intellectual Property units. They carried out operations at key locations, including markets, border control points and shops.
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INTERPOL said that investigations carried out by national authorities led to the identification and dismantling of several organized crime networks as well as entire businesses selling counterfeit goods.
In El Salvador, for example, police arrested an individual linked to one of the ‘most wanted’ criminals connected to trafficking in illicit goods.
Costa Rican police took down an entire network selling fake work safety products including masks and air filters, and in Colombia more than 1,600 counterfeit pesticide bottles were seized after officers uncovered a sales ring targeting farmers.
In the Dominican Republic, where deforestation is an increasing problem, authorities seized more than 100 bags of charcoal at the Haitian border, in addition to identifying and closing down two illegal factories manufacturing laundry detergent.
A shopping centre in Santo Domingo was also found to be selling fake goods alongside genuine brands after their supply chain had been infiltrated by organized crime networks.
A bootleg distillery was also shut down, and tests on the illegal alcohol seized during the raids showed it to contain potentially lethal additives.
Taking part in their first operation targeting counterfeit goods, police in Cuba seized hundreds of fake boxes ready to be filled with fake brand-name cigars.
Other examples of seizures include: counterfeit rifle scopes in Canada and video game controllers in Mexico.
New figures show the risk of counterfeit goods. How big is the black market and have you bought counterfeit goods? pic.twitter.com/6po2KTTsSv
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INTERPOL said the illicit trade in fuel proved to be one of the most prolific crimes. In just one operation conducted by Colombian police near to the Venezuelan border, police seized 19 trucks containing nearly 84,000 gallons of smuggled fuel in addition to US$70,000 in cash and three firearms.
“The success of this operation is a result of the dedication and commitment of the involved countries, particularly those who took part in these specifically targeted actions for the first time,” said Michael Ellis, head of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit.
“The results show the extent of the challenge faced by every country in combating the spread of fake and illicit goods, and INTERPOL will continue to support their efforts in dismantling these networks and bringing those involved to justice.”
Countries and territories which took part in Operation Maya II were: Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Venezuela.