European authorities report spectacular actions – news in brief

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France: Customs seize hundreds of thousands of counterfeit food products // Spain: Raids turn up counterfeits worth millions of euros // UK: Police seize five tonnes of counterfeit products // Italy: half a million fake batteries confiscated
France: Customs seize hundreds of thousands of counterfeit food products

Approximately 640,000 counterfeit food products were seized by customs authorities in the French overseas department of La Réunion in July. As released in mid‑September, customs officials at the port of La Réunion inspected a container from China, based on a tip from customs in Marseille. The container was allegedly carrying about 1,500 boxes of toys bound for Madagascar. However, in the packages, officials found powder sachets and bottles, labeled “Cola,” “Fanda,” “Cola Spray,” or “Sprite Spray.” The investigators seized more than 460,000 sachets and around 180,000 bottles, which have since been confirmed as counterfeits by the brand owners and are now to be destroyed.

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Spain: Raids turn up counterfeits worth millions of euros

In an operation by Spain’s Guardia Civil, officials seized more than 25,000 counterfeits worth more than six million euros on the Canary Islands in early September. The operation, called ETIQUETA, started back in May, with investigators identifying several traders of counterfeit products. Eventually, Guardia Civil officers, supported by other authorities, carried out checks in more than 40 stores on Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. They found large quantities of counterfeits on offer, including mainly fake clothing, accessories, perfume, and toys.

UK: Police seize five tonnes of counterfeit products

As part of the long‑running, high‑profile Operation Vulcan, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) recently conducted another successful raid. In the early hours of the morning, officers raided a warehouse in Manchester’s Cheetham Hill district, where they found around five tonnes of counterfeit clothing. In addition, police officers seized about 15,000 pounds cash (about 17,000 Euros). A 35‑year‑old man was arrested on suspicion of money laundering.

Italy: half a million fake batteries confiscated

Investigations by Guardia di Finanza from Perugia, in the Umbria region, led to the seizure of a total of more than half a million counterfeit Duracell products, including more than 570,000 batteries and around 145,000 blister packs. Around 20 people face charges for several offenses. A tip‑off about possible counterfeits being sold in a hardware store was the starting point for the successful operation. When the store was raided in December 2022, around 153,000 counterfeit products were seized. After further investigations reconstructing the distribution channels of the counterfeit products, investigators conducted additional raids at wholesalers in Livorno, Palermo, Verona, and Milan, and at retailers in Genoa, Lucca, and Biella. According to authorities, some of the retailers were not aware that the batteries were counterfeit, given their high packaging quality and their unsuspicious pricing.

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