‘Too short’ condoms lead to counterfeit bust in Spain

Executives at two wholesale distributors in Spain have been charged with distributing tens of thousands of fake condoms, after an investigation prompted by a tip-off from a member of the public.

The scam was discovered after a Barcelona man who regularly bought the genuine Durex Natural Confort brand of condoms became suspicious after discovering the knock-offs were shorter than usual, and alerted the authorities, according to local media reports.

After a two-year police investigation, two suspects – a 48-year-old Spanish man and a Pakistani man aged 53 – have been charged with distributing more than 15,000 packs of counterfeit condoms as well as 41,000 of illegal condoms without an EU CE mark, according to police.

Counterfeit condoms are typically made of inferior quality materials and do not undergo the same rigorous quality control checks as legitimate products, which raises the risk of allergic and other reactions, unwanted pregnancies and infections among users.

They can also be made in unsanitary conditions and some may be recycled from used condoms. The Mossos d'Esquadra Catalan police said in a statement they believe this is the first incident of counterfeit condoms to be identified in Spain.

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During the investigation, 12 boxes of Durex Natural Confort – labelled in Spanish and Portuguese – were found at a supermarket on Travessera de Les Corts in Barcelona.

700 other counterfeit packs found at other small shops and supermarkets in the city along with 11,700 boxes without CE marks that while not counterfeit cannot be sold legally in the EU.

They also found counterfeits of another Durex brand (Durex Dame Placer), and after questioning the store owners it emerged that in most cases the condoms had been purchased cheaply from street vendors and resold at a profit.

Piecing together the illicit supply chain, the investigators eventually found a distribution operation in a warehouse in the Sant Adrià de Besòs area of Barcelona, as well as another similar company operating in the nearby town of Santa Perpètua de la Mogoda.

The counterfeits had the following labelling:

  • Durex Natural Comfort, lot 1000221414 expiration date 2024-05
  • Durex Dame Placer, lot 1000603437 expiration date 2024-05

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