Lyon, France - More than EUR 37 million worth of fake and illicit goods have been seized in a series of INTERPOL-coordinated operations involving 18 countries across Europe.
As part of Operations White Mercury II and Black Poseidon III some 1,500 interventions were carried out in September and October resulting in the recovery of nearly 12 million fake items including car parts, alcohol, toys, clothing, cigarettes, cosmetics and home appliances.
In Ukraine officers discovered three separate illicit factories, one producing fake sports clothing, a second making counterfeit cement and the third manufacturing alcohol, where some 15 thousand bottles were seized in addition to some 1,000 litres or EUR 50,000 worth of vodka ready for bottling.
Officials in Moldova stopped a tanker on the Chisinau to Brest road where they discovered 270,000 cartons of cigarettes hidden in secret compartments. Following the intervention an INTERPOL Purple Notice - used to seek or provide information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods - was circulated to all 190 member countries.
Iliya Pulov, Head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) in Sofia which took part in both operations, said: “Bulgaria’s involvement underlines our commitment to block illicit trade and counterfeiting, and also to protect the health and safety of consumers who are at risk from what can be potentially lethal products.”
Led by the involved INTERPOL NCBs, the operations were also supported by the World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for Eastern and Central Europe which provided liaison and communications support with national customs authorities.
Head of the State Security Department of the Turkish National Police Arif Çankal said they would continue to maintain their zero tolerance policy to illicit trade and counterfeiting, with Head of NCB Ankara Rafet Ufuk Önder adding: “This third Black Poseidon operation again shows that cross border cooperation via INTERPOL is essential to tackle transnational organized crime groups involved in illicit trade.”
Black Poseidon III and White Mercury II were conducted under the umbrella of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting programme. This initiative assists police across the Organization’s 190 member countries to not only target the involved transnational crime groups, but also identify the routes used in transporting fake goods, which are often also used for human trafficking and drug smuggling.
The operations also supported INTERPOL’s Turn Back Crime campaign, which aims to raise public awareness of how crimes can affect people’s daily lives, from potentially life-threatening poor quality counterfeit products, to funding organized crime through buying fake goods.
Black Poseidon III participating countries; Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine.
White Mercury II participating countries; Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.