SPAIN´S National Police announced on January 18 that they have cracked a crime ring responsible for the distribution of counterfeit fashion products, made in Portuguese factories and then sold by street vendors in different parts of Spain.
Assisted by the Food and Economic Safety Agency of Portugal (ASAE), the police operation, which began in 2015, led the authorities to Pontevedra in North-West Spain. Officers discovered that a sophisticated organisation, led by a person of Moroccan origin, were receiving the Portuguese knock-offs of luxurious brands and then distributing them by courier.
Investigators blocked several bank accounts connected to the crime ring and discovered amounts in excess of €3 million, which had been ´washed´ by transferring amounts between ´legal´ businesses and foreign bank accounts.
The National Police have confirmed the detention of 27 persons, including the group leader, and the seizure of more than 40,000 fake products in Pontevedra, A Coruna, Gijon, Huelva Pamplona, Malaga, Valencia and locations in Northern Portugal. The charges levelled against the suspects include intellectual property infringement and money laundering.
Counterfeits of prestigious European brands sold worldwide are said to cost the fashion industry almost 10 per cent of their sales every year.