INTERPOL-led operation disrupts organized counterfeiting networks in South America

30 May 2008

LYON, France - An INTERPOL-led operation targeting transnational organized criminals in South America has resulted in 185 arrests and the seizure of counterfeit and pirated goods worth more than USD115 million.

In addition to recovering potentially life-threatening fake medicines, sub-standard electrical goods and other pirated products, police and customs officers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay seized 973 kg of marijuana, 2.35 kg of crack cocaine, illicit firearms and ammunition during the three-month-long Operation Jupiter.

“We are delighted with the support INTERPOL and those industries affected by counterfeiting and piracy in South America have received from the police and customs authorities,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

“The determination of law enforcement authorities in all five countries to work together and share intelligence has improved communication, co-operation and the effectiveness of the interventions into criminal networks that generate massive profits without any regard for the safety of innocent consumers.”

Operation Jupiter focused primarily on the flow of counterfeit and pirated products from Southeast Asia through the ports of Iquique in Chile and Montevideo in Uruguay. The organized crime networks’ transnational distribution channels then led through Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru into Brazil and throughout South America.

INTERPOL’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) programme which spearheaded Operation Jupiter, provides a central point of reference to facilitate co-operation between law enforcement authorities and the public and private sectors in the fight against transnational organized IP crime. The operation run between October and December 2007 was the third such action taken in the region to target transnational organized crime groups involved in counterfeiting and piracy.

“Operation Jupiter has increased our level of knowledge about counterfeiting and piracy in Uruguay,” said Head of the National Police, Sydney Ribeiro. “Improved intelligence has enabled the police and INTERPOL Montevideo to make major inroads into these crimes.”

Operation Jupiter is one of a series of regional anti-counterfeiting initiatives against transnational organized criminals mounted by INTERPOL and supported by the United States Chamber of Commerce. A product of the partnership has been the INTERPOL Database on International Intellectual Property (DIIP) Crime, which is used to analyze regional and global information about criminal counterfeiting and piracy and assisted in identifying where law enforcement interventions in South America would be most effective.

“By working together, the business community and INTERPOL are striking severe blows against criminal counterfeiters and pirates, while protecting the innovators, workers and consumers who rely on legitimate and safe products and technologies," said David Hirschmann, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.