Police across South America have arrested more than 600 people and confiscated goods worth more than $50 million as part of a six-month effort to crack down on trade in counterfeit products, the international police organization Interpol said Friday.
The arrests come from more than 300 raids in 13 countries and the counterfeit goods ranged from soft drinks to car parts, the agency said.
Also seized were counterfeit toys that posed a health hazard to children, Interpol said.
â€śINTERPOL will continue to work with all of our member countries to target and dismantle the organized crime gangs behind counterfeits and fakes which not only pose a significant threat to the health and safety of consumers, but also effects national economies which during these times of global financial crisis can have even more serious consequences,â€ť said Roberto Manriquez, project manager for Operation Jupiter, which was launched in 2005 by Interpolâ€™s Intellectual Property Rights program. This was the fifth series of raids conducted under Operation Jupiter.
â€śThis on going project once again proved the effectiveness of law enforcement cooperation in combating transnational crime,â€ť said Allen Bruford, deputy director of compliance and facilitation for the World Customs Organization, which assisted in the operation.
In addition to seizing the counterfeit goods, Interpol said police and customs officials were able to identify and shut down workshops across the region where the fakes were made.
Countries included in this yearâ€™s raids were Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France (French Guyana), Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.