International raids see fake vodka seized

A co-ordinated operation carried out by Interpol and Europol involving 33 countries has resulted in the seizure of nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks and 1,200 tonnes of fake or substandard foods.

Police (Image © Northumbria Police)

Operation Opson began in 2011 targeting  the criminal production and sale of counterfeit protected food name products, such as Gorgonzola or Champagne.

Most recently Operation Opson III, which ran between December 2013 and January 2014 and specifically targeted crime networks behind the illegal trade of unregulated food and drink, saw 96 people arrested in countries across the Americas, Asia and Europe.

In Scotland, a 40ft lorry carrying 17,156 litres of counterfeit Glen’s vodka was seized, amounting to £269,300.65 in unpaid duty and VAT.

The operation’s success was today praised by Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger.

He said: “Fake and sub-standard food poses a serious health risk to consumers and takes money away from legitimate producers and retailers.

“The UK will continue to share its expertise in the international fight against fake food and work with our partners to bring these unscrupulous criminal gangs to justice.

“Coordination was key to the success of Opson III, and the Intellectual Property Office played this vital role for the UK. Building on this, I will be hosting the 2014 Opson IV planning conference next month in London.”

In total, Operation Opson III recovered:

  • more than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar
  • more than 80,000 biscuits
  • more than 1,200 tonnes of fake or sub-standard food
  • nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks
  • 20 tonnes of spices and condiments
  • 186 tonnes of cereals
  • 45 tonnes of dairy products and 42 litres of honey

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