Police seize £7.5 million of counterfeit goods during huge operation in Cheetham Hill.
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Yesterday (Wednesday 11 March 2020), officers from Greater Manchester Police and the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) executed a number of warrants at Great Ducie Street, Manchester
Officers from GMP and the City of London Police - the national policing lead for fraud – worked alongside UK immigration, meaning a total of 100 officers and staff members were involved in the operation.
The search warrant, which developed from a previous operation that involved the sale and distribution of counterfeit items, saw thousands of labels, computer equipment and cash seized. Detectives are currently exploring links between the counterfeit operation and Serious Organised Crime, helping to fund criminal activity beyond Greater Manchester.
15 people were arrested, after officers uncovered an estimated £7.5 million worth of branded clothing, shoes and perfume suspected to be counterfeit.
Chief Inspector Kirsten Buggy, of GMP’s North Manchester division, said: “Yesterday’s operation is one of the largest of its kind ever carried out in the area and has taken a meticulous amount of planning and preparation.
“I am thankful to colleagues from the City of London Police, who as the national policing lead for fraud, have worked in partnership with officers from GMP and helped bring about yesterday’s direct action. I am also grateful to those from UK Immigration for their help.
“Such partnerships are absolutely vital when tackling counterfeit operations, as they bring specialisms from across the country together in a bid to make an impactive and real difference. Steps such as yesterday are often only the start when it comes to investigating the scale of these operations and we will continue to work in conjunction with the City of London’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit to tackle this type of offending to its’ very core.
“It is important to recognise the far-reaching and serious impact of sophisticated and large scale counterfeit operations such as this one; and I would like to take this opportunity to remind members of the public of the repercussions of this kind of offending and the link to organised criminal activity. Please be under no illusion- this type of crime is not victimless.”
Police staff investigator Charlotte Beattie, of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said:
“The counterfeit goods business is a deceiving one and the key message to be take away from this operation, is that counterfeiting is not a victimless crime.
“An individual may think that when buying counterfeit goods they are only affecting a multi-million pound brand, and won’t matter, when in fact they are helping to fund organised criminal activity. Counterfeit goods also pose a health risk to individuals as they usually are not fit for purpose or have not gone through the legal health and safety checks.
“Working in partnership has ensured that today’s operation has been a success. We will continue to work with Greater Manchester Police and UK Immigration to tackle the scourge of the counterfeit goods problem.”