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 activities revolve around five central pillars:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Legal assistance: we provide technical legal assistance (legislative drafting and training) to countries at the request of their respective governments.
  5. I-Checkit: the INTERPOL-Checkit programme combines key information from private industry and law enforcement to allow targeted users to verify whether a product has been traded illicitly.

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.

25 June 2015

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

PARIS, France – Turn Back Crime, the campaign developed by INTERPOL to raise awareness on how transnational organized crime such as international counterfeiting can affect the general public on a daily level, has received the 2015 Media Award from the Global Anti-Counterfeiting Group (GACG).Since its launch last year, the campaign has reached out to polic...
01 June 2015

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

LYON, France – Car parts, fuel, food, detergent, cigars, shampoo and steel were among fake goods worth nearly USD 60 million seized in a two-week operation across the Americas and the Caribbean.Codenamed Maya II, more than 2,000 interventions by police, customs, investigators and Intellectual Property (IP) units were carried out at key locations including...
19 March 2015

INTERPOL hosts global music industry anti-piracy conference

LYON, France – Global music industry experts are attending an anti-piracy conference at the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters to exchange best practice, discuss emerging trends and content protection strategy.Bringing together some 80 representatives from 27 countries, the two-day (18 and 19 March) conference organized by the International Federat...
23 February 2015

Namibian President launches national INTERPOL Turn Back Crime campaign

OSHAKATI, Namibia ‒ Highlighting the important role citizens can play in helping police turn back crime, Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba launched his country’s Turn Back Crime campaign at the Oshakati Independence Stadium as part of the Namibian Police Force’s 24th anniversary.With the Namibian Police Force having evolved into a strong organizatio...
16 February 2015

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

Thousands of tonnes of fake and sub-standard food and drink have been seized in 47 countries around the world as part of an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated operation.Operation Opson IV, conducted during December 2014 and January 2015, resulted in the seizure of more than 2,500 tonnes of counterfeit and illicit food, including mozzarella, strawberries, eggs,...
31 December 2014

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

LYON, France – More than EUR 37 million worth of fake and illicit goods have been seized in a series of INTERPOL-coordinated operations involving 18 countries across Europe.As part of Operations White Mercury II and Black Poseidon III some 1,500 interventions were carried out in September and October resulting in the recovery of nearly 12 million fake ite...
24 November 2014

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

DUBAI, UAE - Attended by 300 delegates from 13 countries, the 4th Regional IP conference for the Middle East and North Africa provided a strong platform for discussing emerging trends in intellectual property crime and best practices for countering them. Delegates studied the links between trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting with other organiz...
23 October 2014

INTERPOL legal seminar enhances fight against illicit trade in Gulf region

MANAMA, Bahrain – In the framework of its ongoing efforts to address illicit trade in the Middle East, INTERPOL is holding a legal seminar for participants of the Gulf Arabian countries to discuss intellectual property rights and other illicit trade issues.The four-day event (20-23 October), the first legal seminar organized by INTERPOL in the region, has...
23 September 2014

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

HANOI, Vietnam – Enhancing partnerships for more effective enforcement strategies against trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting is the focus of the 2014 International Law Enforcement Intellectual Property (IP) Crime Conference in Hanoi.Some 500 senior law enforcement officials, security and industry experts from more than 80 countries and 200 or...
22 September 2014

INTERPOL operation nets fakes worth USD 50 million across Asia

LYON, France – Illicit goods worth nearly USD 50 million were seized during an INTERPOL operation targeting the organized criminal networks trading fake and illicit products in Asia.Operation Real was conducted by police and customs agencies across 10 countries – Cambodia, China, Fiji, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailan...
11 September 2014

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

WARSAW, Poland – Identifying innovative legal solutions to combat illicit trade and intellectual property (IP) crime was the focus of a specialized training course for Polish prosecutors co-hosted by INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs.With Poland’s eastern border one of the longest on the edge of the European Union, the country faces a considerable challe...
11 July 2014

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

LYON, France – Baby food, cosmetics, televisions, mobile phones and toys were among goods worth USD 5.6 million seized during an INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting organized crime groups trading fake and illicit products across Eastern and Southern Africa.Operation Wipeout was conducted across seven countries – Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanz...
04 July 2014

Moldova police seize smuggled snake venom

LYON, France – In a sting against organized crime, Moldova police have seized a record amount of snake venom destined for sale on the black market and arrested members of the criminal network which smuggled the substance into the country.Following a month-long investigation into the network’s activities, police with the Moldova General Police Inspectorate...
25 June 2014

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

LYON, France – The discovery of 20,000 illicit tablets hidden inside fake car parts has led to the issue of an INTERPOL Purple Notice at the request of Kuwait.The Tramadol tablets, which are illegal in Kuwait, were found during an investigation by the General Directorate for Combating Drugs when officers became suspicious of a parcel sent to an Egyptian n...
15 June 2014

Ducati Team on track in support of Turn Back Crime campaign

BARCELONA, Spain – The Turn Back Crime campaign is racing ahead as the Ducati Team add their support to INTERPOL’s efforts to tackle a wide range of crimes, including counterfeiting and motor vehicle crimeAt today’s GP of Catalunya, taking place at the Montmeló circuit near Barcelona, the Ducati Team will be revving up INTERPOL’s campaign to raise awarene...
05 June 2014

Police and public unite behind INTERPOL campaign to #TurnBackCrime

#TurnBackCrime, INTERPOL’s campaign highlighting the dangers of organized and other forms of crime and their impact on everyday life is being rolled out around the world.While many people know that transnational organized crime networks are behind various forms of trafficking such as illicit goods, fake medicines, drugs, arms and even people, they are oft...
04 June 2014

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

ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay - Encouraging stronger policies to support enhanced coordination between prosecutors and law enforcement in combating illicit trade and counterfeiting is the focus of an INTERPOL Legal Capacity Building Seminar in Paraguay.Hosted by INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs and Paraguay’s Prosecutor’s Office, the five-day (2 - 6 June) seminar...
15 May 2014

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

LYON, France – More than 600 raids carried out across South America in an INTERPOL-coordinated operation have led to the seizure of fake goods worth some USD 27.4 million, with nearly 800 people placed under investigation.Police and customs officers from 10 countries took part in Operation Jupiter VI, aimed at disrupting the organized crime networks behin...
28 April 2014

Visit to INTERPOL by Dubai Police focuses on enhancing cooperation

LYON, France – Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security in Dubai, has met with INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble to enhance collaborative efforts between Dubai and INTERPOL against emerging transnational crime threats.During his visit to the world police body’s General Secretariat headquarters, Lieuten...
26 April 2014

INTERPOL recognizes World IP Day

Every year the importance of intellectual property (IP) to the world’s economy is recognized on World IP Day, 26 April, as originally designated by the World Intellectual Property Office.Through its Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting programme, INTERPOL has for years facilitated and supported police and law enforcement agencies worldwide in t...
03 April 2014

INTERPOL casebook highlights links between illicit trade and organized crime

LYON, France – INTERPOL has launched a casebook outlining the links between illicit trade, counterfeiting and organized crime. ‘Against Organized Crime: INTERPOL Trafficking and Counterfeiting Casebook 2014’ is a compilation of cases from law enforcement worldwide involved in the fight against trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting.Through these...
20 March 2014

INTERPOL-supported operation in Qatar leads to major seizure of illicit goods

LYON, France – Tens of thousands of counterfeit products were seized across Qatar during the first INTERPOL-coordinated operation to combat trafficking in illicit goods and counterfeiting held in the Middle East.Carried out in partnership with the Qatar Ministry of Interior and the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) in Doha, Operation Al Shaheen (mean...
05 March 2014

Lack of oversight in cigarette components funds organized crime, warns INTERPOL Chief

LYON, France – INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble is warning that a lack of oversight in the cigarette component supply chain is being exploited by organized crime to make billions in illegal profits by producing billions of illicit cigarettes.Producers of acetate tow, a key component in cigarette filters, are exporting high volumes of their produ...
14 February 2014

Thousands of tonnes of fake food and drink seized in INTERPOL-Europol operation

More than 1,200 tonnes of fake or substandard food and nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks have been seized in an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.Targeting the organized crime networks behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink, Operation Opson III led to the r...
24 January 2014

Fuel smuggling rings dismantled in INTERPOL coordinated operation

LYON, France – Two organized crime networks involved in fuel smuggling across Peru and Ecuador have been dismantled following an INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting illicit trade and counterfeiting.More than 60 interventions were carried out as part of Operation Alisuyo, targeting the criminal gangs known as ‘culebras’ or ‘snakes’ because of the way...
14 January 2014

Qatar requests first INTERPOL notice for illicit trade offences

LYON, France – Qatar has become the first country to request an INTERPOL Purple Notice in connection with illicit trade after the seizure of a machine used to change expiry dates on food and drink.An investigation was launched following a routine store check by the Consumer Protection Department when an Inspector noticed the validity information printed o...

An innovative tool to detect and prevent illicit transactions.

INTERPOL's Trafficking in Illicit Goods Programme

INTERPOL Operation Black Poseidon - Results

INTERPOL marks World Intellectual Property Day with Operation Maya results

Operation Jupiter V