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

Some €70,000 euros and three vehicles were also seized alongside the huge haul of counterfeit goods that could be worth more than €300 million, according to an estimate by experts.

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

Some €70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles were also seized alongside the huge haul of counterfeit goods that could be worth more than €300 million, according to an estimate by experts.

The criminal organisation that was based primarily on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura, acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate in Madrid.

Spanish police revealed that agents of the National Police, in a joint operation with Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency, launched an investigation after learning of the existence of several businesses on the island of Tenerife that were dedicated to the sale of counterfeit goods.

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

“The police operation, called Django, culminated 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,” it was reported by police.

“The organization acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate 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 Brigade of the Judicial Police of the Provincial Police Station of the National Police of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

“This unit was aware of the existence of a wholesale point of sale for counterfeit leather goods in the south of Tenerife,” the police stated. “Surveillance and follow-up work led to location of the person in charge, and observed how he sold these products to various individuals, both for street vending and for sale in bazaars.

“After that, steps were taken with parcel companies to determine that the shipments came from Fuerteventura, and involves several citizens of Chinese origin who would make up the leadership of the organization.”

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

The investigation was prosecuted in the Court of Instruction number 4 of Arona, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

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

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

There was a second level that carried out supply and distribution functions; and a third level that acquired counterfeit material from the head of the organisation.

“The leadership of the organisation acquired the falsified material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate, located in Fuenlabrada (Madrid), and secondarily directly from China,” the Spanish police stated.

“The merchandise was sent by sea and once it arrived in the Canary Islands, it was delivered through private parcel companies, mainly at warehouses in Fuerteventura.

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

Nearly 100 National Police officers from different units operating under the scope of the Superior Headquarters of the Canary Islands National Police, as well as Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency were backed up with support of a canine unit of the local police of Tenerife.

There were simultaneous searches carried out in three homes, four warehouses and 14 bazaars or establishments on both 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 belonging to a criminal organization, against industrial property and money laundering,” police revealed.

“With the organisation dismantled, investigations into money laundering continue.”

It was also reported that until now, more than 250,000 objects valued at more than €222 million have been seized in previous operations.

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