OLAF: Officials seize 15 million liters of alcoholic beverages

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Led by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), authorities seize around 15 million liters of counterfeit alcoholic beverages. The notable success was part of this year’s OPSON operation by Europol, targeting counterfeit food products.

Police and customs in Europe confiscated almost 14.8 million liters of counterfeit or illegal alcoholic beverages as part of a targeted operation. The illegal products seized for example include beer, wine, and spirits. In addition to the enormous quantity of counterfeit alcoholic beverages, officials also seized fake bottles and bag‑in‑box packaging as well as various to produce counterfeit alcoholic beverages, along with large amounts of fake labels. The OLAF-led operation involved authorities from a total of 19 different European countries1, including Germany.

The successful strike against counterfeit alcohol was carried out as part of this year’s Europol operation OPSON XI, which took place between December 2021 and May 2022, as OLAF and Europol have just recently announced. Authorities from a total of 26 countries2 participated in OPSON XI – including numerous European Union member states, along with Colombia and the United States, for instance. The officials carried out a total of around 74,000 checks during OSPON XI and thus detected almost 27.000 tons of illegal food – apart from alcoholic beverages, this in particular included cereals, grains and derived products as well as fruits, vegetables, and legumes. In addition, the respective authorities initiated more than 175 criminal proceedings and over 2.000 administrative proceedings.

// The best way to fight fraudsters and counterfeiters is through cooperation between OLAF, Europol and national customs and police authorities. We can see the results of this approach – almost 15 million litres of illicit beverages are off the shelves.
Ville Italä, Director-General of OLAF

In the previous year, during OPSON X, investigators were only able to seize around 15,500 tonnes of illegal products – and two years ago during OPSON IX, they secured significantly fewer products still, with around 12.000 tonnes of suspect foodstuff. The current operation was supported by the European Commission (DG SANTE and DG AGRI), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), as well as national food control authorities and Interpol. In addition, partners from the private sector are supporting the investigators.

1 Countries participating in the OLAF operation: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Norway.
2 Countries participating in Europol’s Operation OPSON XI: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, the United States.
Sources: OLAF, Europol

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