Counterfeit goods worth nearly USD 1 million have been seized in a series of interventions across Eastern Europe as part of Interpol’s Operation White Mercury.
Involving seven countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – the operation also resulted in the identification of a network spanning three countries involved in the production of fake everyday consumer goods.
An illegal production site manufacturing illicit household detergent was identified in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In addition to the equipment, more than 10,000 litres of the fake liquid, 60,000 bottles and fake packaging material were seized with the follow-up investigation revealing connections to at least four other illicit manufacturers in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece.
Fake toys, shower gel, cigarettes, vehicle parts, electronics and home appliances were seized across all seven countries. In Albania, an entire counterfeit wine production line was identified and subsequently shut down.
As a result of the 150 interventions and raids carried out by police and customs officials at border control points, airports, roadside checks, shopping centres and warehouses, some 330 people were investigated, arrested or reported to judicial authorities.
Tackling transnational organised crime networks
“Operation White Mercury has again shown that international police co-operation is essential to effectively tackle transnational organised crime networks involved in illicit trade,” said Iliya Pulov, director of the International Co-operation Operational Directorate of the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior.
“This operation and the work which continues are important in removing potentially dangerous and substandard goods from circulation, and so protecting the public from harm.”
Under the umbrella of Interpol’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods initiative, Operation White Mercury was conducted in two stages from 30 September to 6 October 2013 and from 28 October to 3 November 2013 for more effective intelligence-led interventions in the second part of the operational phase.
The programme assists police across the organisation’s 190 member countries to not only target the transnational crime groups but also identify the routes used in transporting fake goods, which are often also used for human trafficking and drug smuggling.