Trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting
About the programme
At INTERPOL, we are working to identify, disrupt and dismantle transnational organized networks behind the trafficking in illicit goods.
Trafficking in illicit goods, is a generic term used by INTERPOL to describe all types of illicit trade. It includes such practices as counterfeiting (trademark infringements), piracy (copyright infringements), smuggling of legitimate products and tax evasion. Selling fake or counterfeit products as the real thing is one aspect of this crime; so is selling genuine goods on the black market to avoid paying taxes. By avoiding regulatory controls the criminals behind these activities typically peddle often dangerous goods with a complete disregard for the health and safety of consumers. The phenomenon has grown to an unprecedented level, posing tremendous risks to society and the global economy.
All levels of society are impacted by trafficking in illicit goods. For example, counterfeiting harms businesses which produce and sell legitimate products, governments lose tax revenue from products manufactured or sold on the black market, and consumers are at risk from substandard products.
The role of organized crime
A clear link has been established between the trafficking of illicit goods and transnational organized crime. Criminal organizations are attracted by the lucrative profits involved in trading counterfeit or fake goods, or in trading legitimate goods through illicit channels. The criminals involved manufacture and trade illicit goods on a regional and increasingly global scale.
Organized crime networks exploit new technology, differences among national regulatory regimes and links between the global economic, finance and transportation systems for their own gain. They use the profits to fund other criminal activities such as drug trafficking, people smuggling and robbery.
Our main activities are as follows:
- Operations: we support regional and global operations to break up the networks behind trafficking in illicit goods and to remove dangerous and sub-standard goods from circulation.
- Capacity Building and Training: we deliver clear, consistent and specialized training programmes under the umbrella of the International IP Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC). These enable investigators to effectively combat current and emerging threats posed by all types of trafficking in illicit goods.
- Raising awareness: Our global awareness campaign uses online and offline communications channels to raise global awareness and understanding about the links between trafficking in illicit goods and the funding of transnational organized criminal networks.
- Legal assistance: we provide technical legal assistance (legislative drafting and training) to countries at the request of their respective governments.
We facilitate the sharing of intelligence on trafficking in illicit goods via INTERPOL’s secure police communications system. Data is analysed in order to produce relevant crime reports and to better target our on-the-ground interventions in partnership with police, customs, regulatory bodies and the private sector.
Additionally, we provide a central reference point on trafficking in illicit goods for all INTERPOL member countries and public and private stakeholders. We work to build partnerships with a wide range of representatives across sectors in order to facilitate a multidisciplinary response to this complex issue. We currently partner with more than 40 different industry sectors and a number of cross-industry associations and representative bodies.
As part of this, we organize and participate in a number of international and cross-sector events and conferences. We are interested in cooperating with law enforcement authorities, the public and private sectors in the fight against trafficking in illicit goods. If you represent one of these entities and would like to have further information please contact us.
About the INTERPOL Trafficking in Illicit Goods programme
INTERPOL Operation Jupiter VI (2014)
Operation Al Shaheen photo report (2014)