A clandestine operation producing counterfeit shampoo in Spain has been closed down, with several arrests made.
The factory had a production capacity of around 200,000 bottles a month, with the knock-offs sold to countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which helped organise the enforcement operation.
A spokesperson for OLAF told SecuringIndustry.com that no bottles of the fake shampoo reached the hands of the public "as the factory was under surveillance by the customs and police," although the operation revealed a network that extended from the factory through wholesalers to a handful of small businesses.
The counterfeiters had attempted to export bottles to Europe, Asia and Africa, but the enforcement operation prevented any distribution outside Spain although a shipment was seized en route to Germany.
The investigation uncovered several counterfeit brands, although OLAF said it could not identify the brands involved "due to the ongoing investigative activities." Spanish police said the seized bottles were "virtually identical to a mark of prestige."
The operation has resulted in seven arrests, including two company executives and a chemist, who have been charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, infringement of intellectual property and money laundering.
120,000 bottles of the counterfeit shampoo have been seized at ports in Malaga, Cadiz and Alicante, while the raids also uncovered machinery for the manufacture of the product, thousands of brand labels, chemicals required to make the product and five luxury cars.
The investigation began in early April when investigators received information from several individuals belonging to a criminal group operating from the Costa del Sol.