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01 October 2010 - Media release

Hundreds arrested in INTERPOL and Customs anti-counterfeiting operations across South America

LYON, France – A transnational operation co-ordinated by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization targeting organized criminal counterfeiting networks across 13 countries in South America has resulted in more than 600 arrests and the seizure of fake goods worth 50 million US dollars.

Carried out under the umbrella of Operation Jupiter, goods recovered by police and customs officers across the region included fake satellite receivers and car parts, counterfeit soft drinks and falsely-branded designer sneakers demonstrating the wide range of counterfeit consumer products being trafficked into the mainstream market. A large quantity of counterfeit and sub-standard toys which pose a significant risk to children’s health and safety were also seized.

Since the launch of the operation in March, more than 300 raids and checks have been conducted across a variety of locations including border control checkpoints, seaports and commercial centres with investigations also resulting in the discovery of workshops capable of mass-producing counterfeit goods within the region.

“Operation Jupiter continues to go from strength to strength, and this is entirely due to the dedication and efficiency of the police and customs officials working together in the field, combined with the support of the private sector and national prosecutors,” said Roberto Manriquez, INTERPOL’s Operation Jupiter project manager.

“INTERPOL 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,” added Mr Manriquez.

“The WCO welcomed this initiative as Customs are on the front line at international borders every day in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. This on going project once again proved the effectiveness of law enforcement cooperation in combating transnational crime,” said WCO’s Allen Bruford, Deputy Director, Compliance and Facilitation.

The fifth Operation Jupiter conducted in South America since its launch by INTERPOL’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) programme in 2005 with just three countries, the project has not only resulted in the seizure of an estimated 340 million dollars’ worth of counterfeit goods but also helped national police identify and dismantle gangs involved in gun and drugs smuggling.

In addition to co-ordinating the operational deployments, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization also carried out a series of training seminars, providing frontline officers with the investigative techniques required for these specialised actions.

Major General Oscar Adolfo Naranjo Trujillo, Director General of the Colombian National Police, which hosted one of the regional seminars, said that the training and support provided had been central to the operation’s success.

“For the Policía Nacional this was an excellent opportunity to comprehend the huge impact this criminal trend poses and to emphasize the damage it causes for institutions and industries that are currently fighting to protect their IP rights.

“Our institution is fully committed to the execution of Jupiter Operation V, fighting Intellectual Property crime in Colombia and throughout South America.”

Final results from Operation Jupiter V, which involved Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France (French Guyana), Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela, will be released upon its completion.