Over five tonnes of counterfeit designer handbags and clothing worth up to €3m seized in Spain

Some 70,000 euros and three vehicles were also seized in addition to the huge traffic of counterfeits which could be worth more than 300 million euros, according to an expert estimate.

A total of 17 people were arrested as police raided 14 bazaars, four shops and three houses in the Europol-backed operation.

Some 70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles were also seized, alongside the huge trade in counterfeits which could be worth more than 300 million euros, according to an expert estimate.

The criminal organization, which was based mainly on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura, acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the industrial zone of Cobo Calleja in Madrid.

Spanish police have revealed that National Police officers, in a joint operation with the Customs Surveillance of the Tax Authority, have launched an investigation after learning of the existence of several companies on the island of Tenerife. who were engaged in the sale of counterfeit products.

They had a common distributor, based in the province of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, more precisely in Fuerteventura, “who formed the leadership of a criminal structure dedicated to the sale and distribution of counterfeit material”.

“The police operation, called Django, resulted in the dismantling of a criminal organization specializing in the large-scale distribution and marketing of counterfeit products of exclusive brands that operated on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura,” police said.

“The organization acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial area in Madrid, and marketed its products especially in tourist areas, to take advantage of the presence of a large population with short periods of residence in the country. .”

The operation was launched in September 2021 by the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit of the Provincial Judicial Police Brigade of the Provincial National Police Station of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

“This unit was aware of the existence of a wholesale point of counterfeit leather goods in the south of Tenerife,” the police said. “The monitoring and follow-up work made it possible to locate the person responsible and to observe how he sold these products to different individuals, both for itinerant sale and for sale in bazaars.

“After that, steps were taken with the parcel companies to determine that the shipments came from Fuerteventura, and involve several citizens of Chinese origin who would constitute the management of the organization.

From Fuerteventura, the leader of the network transported the products to other points on the island itself and to Tenerife, where his interlocutor distributed and marketed them on the island.

The investigation was continued before the instruction court number 4 of Arona, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Investigators established that the criminal network acted as a perfectly structured organization, in which three levels were identified.

There was the head of the organization, dedicated to the receipt of counterfeit material and its distribution in the archipelago.

There was a second tier which performed supply and distribution functions; and a third tier who acquired counterfeit material from the head of the organization.

“The management of the organization acquired the falsified material mainly in the industrial zone of Cobo Calleja, located in Fuenlabrada (Madrid), and incidentally directly from China”, declared the Spanish police.

“The goods were shipped by sea and once they arrived in the Canary Islands, they were delivered by private parcel companies, mainly to warehouses in Fuerteventura.

Once merchandise was gathered in the warehouse, it was distributed to other parts of the gang who sold merchandise directly to the consumer, while also distributing it to other businesses.

Almost 100 National Police officers from different units operating within the Canary Islands National Police Upper Headquarters, as well as the Customs Surveillance of the Tax Administration, were supported by a canine unit of the local police of Tenerife.

Simultaneous searches were carried out in three homes, four warehouses and 14 bazaars or establishments on the two islands, where more than 70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles were seized.

More than five tons of counterfeit prestige brands, including bags, assorted leather goods, clothing, sunglasses, watches and various fashion accessories were seized.

“As a result of these actions, 17 people were arrested for the alleged crimes of membership in a criminal organization, against industrial property and money laundering,” police said.

“With the organization disbanded, money laundering investigations continue.”

It was also reported that so far more than 250,000 items worth more than 222 million euros have been seized in previous operations.

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