One of the operations, codenamed “Wafers”, was directed against the import of fake electronic parts. Under the leadership of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), customs authorities from 12 EU countries* secured a total of more than one million counterfeit semiconductors during the two-week operation. Customs inspectors in Germany also confiscated a share of the counterfeit products.
The seized products include for example diodes, LEDs, transistors and integrated circuits. Some of the electronic parts were intended for use in surgical instruments, airplanes and heavy trucks, where malfunctions could result in considerable damage and mortal danger. According to the investigators, the bulk of the counterfeit electronics originated in China and Hong Kong and arrived in Europe either via post or through express mail.
In addition to the positive impact they have had in preventing electronic counterfeiting, OLAF recently scored another important success: in a second large-scale campaign under the codename “Renegade”, law enforcement authorities from more than 40 European and Asian countries** took over 70,000 counterfeit car parts off the market.
Among the seized counterfeits were air and oil filters, fuel pumps and refrigerants for air conditioning systems. Special attention was given to sea freight routes, with customs officers of almost all major European ports being involved in the operation. In total, investigators inspected more than 400 freight containers within a two week period.
Giovanni Kessler, Director General of OLAF, praised the international cooperation during the two operations: “These seizures illustrate how crucial European cooperation is in the fight against the illegal trade of counterfeit products. By working together, we can ensure that European citizens are not harmed by fake products.” OLAF and local customs officials received support by Europol and Interpol as well as numerous original parts manufacturers who provided vital information to help quickly identify plagiarised parts.
On top of the fake semiconductors and spare car parts, investigators and customs authorities also uncovered and seized other types of counterfeits during their inspections, including a total of more than 400,000 fake toys, cosmetics, accessories, gardening materials and food items.