Spanish crackdown nets €8m-worth of counterfeit goods

The Spanish authorities have seized 265,000 fake clothing and other products in an operation against intellectual property (IP) crime and money laundering.

The Europol-supported operation by the Spanish National Police and Spanish tax authorities was able to dismantle an international criminal organisation involved ithe distrbution of counterfeit textiles, footwear, watches, sunglasses, leather goods, jewellery and more. Around €8m-worth of illicit goods was seized in the operation on November 29.

The criminal group also used a sophisticated network of fictitious companies and front men to launder the proceeds of their criminal activities, which are thought to have exceeded €9m.

All told, 71 individuals were arrested, six premises were searched and 41 inspected, including warehouses, with the activity focused around the Spanish towns of La Jonquera close to the border with France. The operation also led to the seizure of 30 high-end vehicles, 150 bank accounts, around €13,000 in cash, two stamping plates and documents related to the illicit activities.

In some of the premises, investigators discovered the existence of secret warehouses hidden behind false walls, used by the criminals to conceal the newest illicit merchandise in case of a police intervention.

The crackdown - dubbed Operation Pinar - was initiated by the Spanish National Police in 2013 and supported by Europol which provided data analysis, information exchange and on-the-spot support.

The criminals imported goods from different companies and different countries, in particular China, Portugal and Turkey. Other products, mainly leather goods and belts, were counterfeited in Spain through the acquisition of 'white' label products to which they applied logos and names of recognised brands.

Europol said this was the largest law enforcement operation against intellectual property crime and money laundering in Spain.

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