Police seize 150 tonnes of fake designer goods from factory believed to mass-produce counterfeit items in exploitative conditions
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City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has led an operation to shut down a factory responsible for mass-producing counterfeit designer goods in what officers believe are exploitative conditions.
Officers raided seven units inside a warehouse on Peel Lane, Cheetham Hill, on 30 November and 1 December, supported by representatives from Greater Manchester Police, the North West Intellectual Property Crime Unit (NWPIPCU), Manchester City Council and Immigration Services.
Nineteen people were detained and around 150 tonnes of counterfeit designer clothing, accessories and footwear were seized. The value of the goods seized is still being ascertained, but is thought to be in the millions.
Three of the units were set up as factories to affix counterfeit designer logos, badges and tags onto unbranded items. The units also contained mattresses and kitchen equipment, and it is believed that the factory operated on a 24-hour basis.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, from City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) said:
“We regularly see links between the counterfeit goods trade and organised crime, and consumers who buy fake designer goods have no way of knowing the conditions in which they were made or what the sales of these goods will fund.
“The conditions we found in this factory highlight that those who coordinate the production of counterfeit goods have little regard for the welfare of the people who make them, and choose to prioritise their own financial gain.
“We urge the public to think twice before buying counterfeit designer goods, particularly while many people are purchasing gifts in the run up to Christmas, and will continue to work with our partners to clamp down on those who produce and sell them.”
Two of the people detained by police were interviewed and have since been released under investigation.
Detective Sergeant Matt Donnolly, from Operation Vulcan at Greater Manchester Police, said:
“The profits from these illegitimate businesses are used to fund serious organised crime, and with that, comes violence that is having a devastating impact on local communities and legitimate businesses.
“The work doesn’t stop here, and I’d like to thank all the partners who are involved in our mission of ridding Cheetham Hill and Strangeways of criminality. We will be taking proactive and robust action against this trade and members of the public can be reassured that this is a top priority for us.”
Detective Sergeant Adam Williams, from the North West Intellectual Property Crime Unit (NWPIPCU), said:
"We continue to work closely with the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, our local police forces and partners to help rid the streets of counterfeit goods, enabling legitimate businesses to thrive.
“The counterfeit trade is not a victimless crime – often criminals use the profits to fund other organised crime, and with that often comes violence, which can have devastating effects on the local community.”