Fake shoes, bags and perfume among huge £500m haul of counterfeit items seized

·3-min read

Police have seized over 200 tonnes of fake goods in what they say is their "biggest ever counterfeit operation".

Fifty five units at a storage facility in Strangeways, Manchester, were raided earlier this week and suspected fake shoes, clothing, handbags, watches, makeup, perfume and sunglasses were among the items seized.

Police said if sold as genuine at market price the items would have been worth £500m.

Two counterfeit perfume factories, and manufacturing equipment, were also found in a number of lock ups inside the storage unit.

Chemicals, including white spirit and screen wash, were also found in the unit used to manufacture fake perfume.

Photos released by City of London police who were involved in the operation led by the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit showed boxes marked with the Dior and Louboutin brands.

Fake brand labels, which are often imported separately to be sewn onto the counterfeit clothing and shoes, were also recovered.

Two people were arrested in the raid and detectives discovered multiple links to two of the biggest organised crime networks in Cheetham Hill in the city.

The force said mobile phones, laptops and a large amount of cash had also been seized by officers.

Police Constable Anthony Cregan, from the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, said: "This operation will have severely disrupted organised crime groups linked to counterfeit goods.

"We believe the hundreds of tonnes of goods seized would have supplied gangs in Cheetham Hill selling counterfeit goods.

"This funds an assortment of serious organised crime, which we are determined to combat.

"This enforcement activity and large-scale seizures should send a strong message to all criminals involved in counterfeit goods that this won't be tolerated, and we are constantly working towards our next operation.

"It is important to recognise the serious impact of sophisticated and large-scale counterfeit operations such as this."

Superintendent Paul Denn of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: "This week our officers have been part of the UK's biggest ever counterfeit operation - seizing more than £500 million worth of goods together with our partners from the City of London Police, Greater Manchester Police and Trading Standards.

"This is a huge success in our mission to combat the counterfeit goods trade in Cheetham Hill. Whenever we receive intelligence about illegal goods, we work closely with our colleagues at the City of London Police and other partners to investigate and take appropriate action.

"This week's activity should send a clear message that we will stop at nothing to tackle this issue and it's a priority we will continue to crack down on."

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for Neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council, said: "The counterfeit goods industry is not just a business of selling the odd knock-off bag, or a fake Gucci bag.

"It is the enterprise of organised criminal gangs who have ties to the drug trade, human trafficking, and a string of other serious crimes.

"As a council, working with our partners, we are determined to stamp out counterfeit operations in North Manchester."

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