Approximately 87 million pounds (about 100 million euros) in sales were lost to criminals in Manchester, northern England, as a result of the high-profile operation, authorities estimate. In the Cheetham Hill district, officials searched more than 200 shipping containers over a 14-day period in June and July and confiscated a total of more than 580 tonnes of illegal items. The seized goods included enormous quantities of counterfeit clothing, as well as fake vapes and, for example, drugs and illegal tobacco. Extensive investigations are now underway to determine the origin of the counterfeit goods and to arrest those involved, authorities say.
The seizure is part of the so-called Operation Vulcan. As part of this campaign, the Greater Manchester Police (GMP), among others, has stepped up its fight against counterfeiting in the Manchester area since the fall of 2022. Now, a total of more than 100 officers have worked together in the extensive raid – involving various departments of the GMP, such as the Dog Unit, Police Search Advisor, CSI, or the Tactical Aid Unit. The officers were supported by brand experts and by the security company Lighthouse Security, which is handling the repurposing of the seized goods.
One of Operation Vulcan’s specialist officers, Detective Inspector Christian Julien, believes that this action by Manchester Police will make it into the top three worldwide for single seizures of counterfeit goods. He also stressed that despite huge actions like this, the fight against counterfeiting is not over and there needs to be further action: “This may be our largest raid to date, but we must continue to build on these efforts to identify the criminal networks behind this activity whose only concern is making a profit, no matter what the cost is to the public.”
“This is one of the largest recorded inland seizures of counterfeit goods worldwide and has prevented an enormous financial gain for the organised crime groups involved”, said Phil Lews, Director General of the UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group. He also highlighted the importance of cooperation between authorities and their partners: “The exemplary work Operation Vulcan and its partners are doing is vital in counteracting this growing national threat.”