Biggest ever police counterfeiting operation sees over £500M of good seized
A storage facility in Strangeways, Manchester, was raided by investigators, in the UK’s biggest ever police operation aimed at cracking down on the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods. Officers raided 55 units within the storage facility, all full of fake goods.
The operation led by the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, working with the City of London Polices’ Intellectual Crime Property Unit, Trading Standards, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, with logistical support from Lighthouse Security, uncovered an estimated £500 million worth of branded goods.
Two counterfeit perfume factories, and manufacturing equipment, was also found in a number of lock ups inside the storage unit. All equipment was seized. Chemicals, including white spirit and screen wash, were also found in the unit used to manufacture fake perfume.
In total over 200 tonnes of goods were seized. If genuine and sold at retail price, this equates to an estimated loss to brands of over £500 million.
Police Constable Anthony Cregan, from the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘This operation will have severely disrupted organised crime groups linked to counterfeit goods. We believe the hundreds of tonnes of goods seized would have supplied gangs in Cheetham Hill selling counterfeit goods.
‘This funds an assortment of serious organised crime, which we are determined to combat.
“This enforcement activity and large-scale seizures should send a strong message to all criminals involved in counterfeit goods that this won’t be tolerated, and we are constantly working towards our next operation.’
The investigation is ongoing, but officers have so far seized suspected counterfeit shoes, clothing, handbags, watches, makeup, perfume, sunglasses, batteries and headphones. Fake brand labels have also been seized. These are often imported separately to be sewn onto counterfeit clothing and shoes. Mobile phones, laptops and a large amount of cash have also been seized.
Superintendent Paul Denn of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: ‘Our officers have been part of the UK’s biggest ever counterfeit operation – seizing more than £500 million worth of goods together with our partners from the City of London Police, Greater Manchester Police and Trading Standards.
“The counterfeit goods trade isn’t a victimless crime. Often criminals use the profits to fund other organised crime, and with that often comes violence, which can have devastating effects on the local community.’