€230 million worth of fake alcohol & food seized worldwideBy Natalie Wang
A joint operation carried out by Interpol and Europol seized 26.4 million litres of counterfeit alcohol and more than 9,800 tonnes of fake food worldwide worth an estimated €230 million, Interpol announced on its website.
Counterfeit alcohol was the most seized product, followed by meat and seafood, according to Interpol.
During the sixth Operation Opson, police, Customs, national food regulatory authorities and partners from private sectors in 61 countries were involved in this joint operation, carried out from 1 December, 2016 to 31 March this year.
In Italy, police dismantled an organised crime network involved in the production and distribution of fake wine, with three suspects arrested. At a Tuscan farm, the police seized 9,000 litres of fake wine and 30 litres of pure alcohol, which was being used to adulterate the wine.
Meanwhile in St. Petersburg, in Russia, police discovered a factory producing and bottling sub-standard alcohol and using faked federal stamps to fool consumers.
In Africa, Rwandan National Police seized a range of fake foods and alcohol, including counterfeit whiskey. In Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control seized more than 51 litres of fake champagne.
“This operation has once again shown that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit. Whilst thousands of counterfeit goods have been taken out of circulation, we continue to encourage the public to remain vigilant about the products they buy,” said Françoise Dorcier, coordinator of Interpol’s Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme.
“Opson VI confirmed the threat that food fraud represents, as it affects all types of products and all regions of the world. In addition, we saw some new trends such as counterfeit mineral water. Once again the good cooperation on a European and global level was paramount to disrupt the criminal gangs behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink,” commented Chris Vansteenkiste, head of Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition – IPC3.