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GLOBAL: Police land counterfeit drinks haul in international swoop

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International police seized 430,000 litres of counterfeit beverages ealrier this year in a co-ordinated swoop across four continents.

Police said this week that Europol and Interpol also made 100 arrests in the January crackdown targeting international counterfeiting gangs in Asia, the Americas and Europe. One success included the seizure of 17,156 litres of counterfeit Glen’s vodka from a lorry in Scotland.

About 1,200 tonnes of fake or sub-standard food was also impounded.

The operation, part of Europol and Interpol's Opson campaign, was praised at this week's International IP Enforcement Summit in London. The UK's intellectual property minister, Lord Younger, told delegates that the fight against counterfeit goods will continue.

“Fake and sub-standard food poses a serious health risk to consumers and takes money away from legitimate producers and retailers,” he said.

The operation included input from trade groups Interprofessionnel de Vin de Champagne and the Scotch Whisky Association. The Tequila Regulatory Council held a one-day training programme for Interpol and Europol officers aimed at explaining infringements.

Overall, Operation Opson, which was launched in 2011, has seized 681,480 litres of alcoholic beverages and 755,452 litres of non-alcoholic drinks.

Wine makes up most of the seizures, at 346,920 litres, while beer is second with 180,519 litres. 

Vodka comprises 27,313 litres, almost twice as much as rum, brandy, gin, whisk(e)y and Tequila combined at 16,816 litres.

The Scotch Whisky Association claimed a victory in April in what it described as “one of the worst markets for fake Scotch” after the spirit was registered as a certification trademark in Australia.


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