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03 April 2009 - Media release

Counterfeiting networks across South America targeted in INTERPOL and World Customs Organization operations

LYON, France – Counterfeit and pirated goods worth more than USD 131 million have been seized in a series of operations across South America co-ordinated by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Under the umbrella of Operation Jupiter, police and customs agents from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay carried out 299 co-ordinated enforcement operations resulting in 311 arrests and the recovery of a range of dangerous products including life-threatening fake medicines, counterfeit foodstuffs, electrical goods and agrochemicals.

More than 34 kilos of cocaine derivatives and nearly 1,500 kilos of marijuana were also seized during the three-month operation carried out between July and September 2008.

“The operation’s success clearly shows that co-ordinating the efforts of police and customs on the ground delivers concrete results in terms of better intelligence sharing and combined law enforcement interventions, which in turn leads to arrests and seizures,” said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin.  “Our continuing work with the World Customs Organization, national customs and police agencies ensures that transnational organized criminals will find it increasingly difficult to evade detection.”

INTERPOL and the WCO worked with participating countries to identify the transnational organized criminal groups involved in cross-border smuggling and to target resources accordingly.  Police and customs authorities in each country then launched investigations and combined interventions to disrupt these frequently complex criminal activities.

“These operations were successful because of the active support of the enforcement agencies in each of the seven countries and a willingness to dedicate significant resources to these investigations,” said Michael Schmitz, WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation.  “Their efforts are to be commended and are a clear demonstration of their desire to ensure their citizens are protected.”

An important part of Operation Jupiter was the close co-operation and support provided to investigators by the private sector.  “Public-private partnerships like this are pivotal for bringing criminal counterfeiters to justice, while protecting the innovators, workers and consumers who rely on intellectual property protection,” said Dr. Mark T. Esper, Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center.

Since the first phase of Operation Jupiter in 2005 – which involved just three countries –  operations throughout the region have so far resulted in nearly 700 arrests and the seizure of goods worth an estimated USD 290 million.