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.

INTERPOL's response

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.

23 September 2015

Global action against intellectual property crime focus of international conference

21 September 2015

South American operation targets crime networks behind fake goods

13 July 2015

Egyptian authorities seize guns, drugs and stolen art in operation targeting illicit goods

25 June 2015

INTERPOL’s Turn Back Crime campaign wins award on World Anti-Counterfeiting Day

01 June 2015

Fakes worth USD 60 million seized in operations across Americas and Caribbean

19 March 2015

INTERPOL hosts global music industry anti-piracy conference

16 February 2015

Record seizures of fake food and drink in INTERPOL-Europol operation

31 December 2014

Fakes worth EUR 37 million seized in INTERPOL coordinated operations across Europe

24 November 2014

Conference consolidates regional efforts against intellectual property crime in Middle East and North Africa

23 October 2014

INTERPOL legal seminar enhances fight against illicit trade in Gulf region

23 September 2014

Harnessing global efforts against counterfeiting and illicit trade focus of international conference

22 September 2014

INTERPOL operation nets fakes worth USD 50 million across Asia

11 September 2014

Using legal tools to combat illicit trade and counterfeiting focus of INTERPOL seminar in Poland

11 July 2014

Dangerous fake goods seized in INTERPOL operations across Eastern and Southern Africa

04 July 2014

Moldova police seize smuggled snake venom

25 June 2014

Kuwait requests INTERPOL Purple Notice after fake car parts used to smuggle drugs

04 June 2014

Boosting legal capacity to tackle illicit trade and counterfeiting focus of INTERPOL seminar in Paraguay

15 May 2014

Hundreds of raids across South America net fake goods worth USD 27 million

03 April 2014

INTERPOL casebook highlights links between illicit trade and organized crime

About the INTERPOL Trafficking in Illicit Goods programme

INTERPOL Operation Jupiter VI (2014)

Operation Al Shaheen photo report (2014)