An operation by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) targeting shipping containers has uncovered thousands of potentially unsafe products, including automotive parts, tobacco and consumer goods.
Under OLAF's coordination, customs in the EU and Asia specifically targeted containers carrying automotive spare parts, intercepting 70,000 counterfeits including grills, oil and air filters, and fuel pumps, as well as 590 cylinders of CFC refrigerant commonly used in air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.
"These fake items could not only be harmful to the environment, but also be potentially dangerous to the safety and health of citizens," said OLAF in a statement.
Criminals often take the opportunity to transport multiple goods at once – and the operation also resulted in seizures of an additional 400,000 counterfeit goods, notably chewing gum, toys, perfumes, headphones, garden appliances and sunglasses, and no fewer than 56m illicit tobacco products and 668kg of cocaine.
The seizure of the smuggled tobacco alone prevented the loss of €12m in customs duties and taxes, said OLAF in a statement.
Operation Renegade involved physical checks on more than 400 sea containers arriving at European ports from Asia, with cooperation between customs in EU member states, Norway, 12 Asian countries including China and India, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and Interpol and Europol.