A huge amount of fake designer items worth an estimated £ 500million have been seized by police in Manchester.
A raid on dozens of storage facilities at Strangeways, north of Manchester, has led to the discovery of more than 200 tonnes of counterfeit items.
The police operation, aimed at cracking down on the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods, is the largest ever in the UK and was led by the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.
Police found 200 tonnes of counterfeit goods hidden in 55 storage units in Manchester
The transport – if sold at the actual market price – would have been worth around £ 500million
The transport also included chemicals that were used to make counterfeit perfume.
A total of 55 storage units were searched by officers.
Among the assortment of items – which, if sold as genuine at market price, would have been worth £ 500million – were shoes, clothing, handbags, watches , allegedly counterfeit makeup, sunglasses and headphones.
Fake brand labels, which are often imported separately to be sewn onto counterfeit clothing and shoes, have also been recovered.
In addition to the goods, two factories of counterfeit perfumes were found and equipment used to make the fake perfumes, including various chemicals, all of which were seized.
The operation took place with the assistance of the City of London Police Intellectual Property Unit, Trade Standards, Border Forces and Immigration Law Enforcement, with logistical support provided by Lighthouse Security.
City of London Police said two people had been arrested and links to two of the largest organized crime groups in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, had been discovered.
The force said cell phones, laptops and a large amount of cash were also seized by officers.
Police Officer Anthony Cregan, of the Northwest Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, who led the investigation, said: “This operation will have seriously disrupted organized crime groups linked to the proceeds of counterfeit.
“We believe the hundreds of tons of seized goods may have fueled gangs in Cheetham Hill selling counterfeit goods.
Police say the seizure will have a serious impact on gangs involved in the sale and supply of counterfeit goods
The counterfeit products included items allegedly from Christian Dior and other designer products
Officers also recovered a large amount of cash, pictured, from one of the 55 storage facilities
“This funds an assortment of serious organized 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 products that this will not be tolerated, and we are constantly working on our next operation.
“It is important to recognize the serious impact of sophisticated and large-scale counterfeiting operations such as this one.”
Councilor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member of Neighborhoods for Manchester City Council, said: “The counterfeit industry is not just a business selling a counterfeit bag or a fake Gucci bag.
“It is the business of organized criminal gangs with links to drug trafficking, human trafficking and a host of other serious crimes.
“As a council, working with our partners, we are determined to eliminate the counterfeiting operations in North Manchester.
“We want to make our neighborhoods safe and prosperous for all residents and as this week’s Operation Genoa demonstrated, we are serious about achieving that goal.”
City of London Police and the North West Police Intellectual Property Unit were involved in the operation.
The gang had materials to print labels for their counterfeit products