Spanish and Dutch authorities achieve remarkable successes against organized crime rings. European officials also scored a significant coup against fake alcohol, and German customs intercept thousands of counterfeit car parts.

Blow against underground factory of organized crime ring
In mid-February, the Spanish Guardia Civil struck a blow against a criminal network manufacturing counterfeits and trafficking drugs, with the support of Europol and authorities from Lithuania, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Officials identified a production site of the syndicate, located in a bunker several meters underground. There, workers were allegedly held captive and forced to work in dangerous conditions to manufacture counterfeit cigarettes. Experts estimate that the now stopped illegal activities generated approximately 625,000 euros in profits per week. The group supposedly used 13 further sites, which were also raided. A total of 20 people were arrested, including the presumed head of the gang. In addition to more than three million counterfeit cigarettes, the operation also resulted in the seizure of approximately 164 kilograms of drugs and several weapons.

Major action against illegal trade in the Netherlands
During a raid in a commercial area in the Dutch town of Beverwijk, the police took action against suspected organized crime and seized thousands of counterfeits in early February. The raid targeted 25 telecommunications shops in the Midi Center business park, which are also suspected of forgery and money laundering. The confiscated fake items include headphones, chargers, and batteries. The action was carried out by more than 90 police officers, representatives of the anti-counterfeiting organization React, and representatives of affected brands.

Massive seizure of fake alcoholic beverages in the EU
In one of the largest seizures of counterfeit alcohol in the EU to date, Dutch customs and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) have seized around 150,000 bottles of fake rum. As was recently released, a raid had been conducted at a warehouse in the Netherlands in December 2019. After months of joint investigations with Dutch and Spanish authorities, OLAF experts had previously identified the activities of counterfeiters trafficking fake alcohol from the Netherlands into Spain. The value of the now seized goods is estimated at two million euros. “This is another example of a successful cooperation between OLAF and national customs authorities – working together to protect the health of EU citizens and support the interests EU companies”, praised Ville Itälä, Director General of OLAF.

Counterfeit car parts seized by Frankfurt customs
A total of 4,000 alleged counterfeit pressure valves were confiscated by customs officials at Frankfurt airport at the end of January. The valves were illicitly carrying the brands of two automobile manufacturers, as well as a false indication of origin. The original versions of the items, which were originating from China, would have a total value of approximately 100,000 euros. Divided up into 22 consignments, the presumed counterfeits were to be delivered to a commercial recipient in Germany, reports Frankfurt customs.

Sources: Europol; Politie Nederland, React; OLAF, Hauptzollamt Frankfurt am Main