International operation led by INTERPOL reveals scale of illicit goods trafficking

17 July 2012

LYON, France – An INTERPOL-led operation against illicit goods trafficking across Eastern Europe has revealed the extent and increasingly elaborate methods used by transnational crime groups to traffic illicit goods with more than 1,400 individuals arrested or under investigation and the seizure of 7.3 million trafficked goods.

The month-long Operation Black Poseidon (May 2012) involved INTERPOL’s National Central Bureaus in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine working with national police and investigators who carried out some 1,700 interventions at commercial locations including markets, as well as at ports and airports, in cooperation with prosecutors, customs and intellectual property crime experts.

Vasyl Nevolia, the Head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Kiev, Ukraine, said: “Operation Black Poseidon was important in removing potentially dangerous and sub-standard goods from circulation. It highlights the need for international police cooperation and what can be achieved through regional and global operations against organized crime networks.”

“The success and the increased awareness provided by Operation Black Poseidon demonstrates that the fight against intellectual and industrial property crimes has become a priority for Turkey's police authorities, in addition to fighting terrorism and drug trafficking," said Rafet Ufuk Önder, the Head of INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Ankara, Turkey.

With officers from INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods unit coordinating the international operation both on the ground and at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, Operation Black Poseidon led to the seizure of illicit clothing, toys, foods, electronics, cigarettes and tobacco, agrochemicals and vehicle spare parts worth 123 million Euros.

“Operation Black Poseidon will have dealt a serious blow against the transnational criminal networks behind illicit trade, as well as protected the public from potentially dangerous substandard and fake goods, and raised awareness of the threat these represent,” said Simone Di Meo, Criminal Intelligence Officer with INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods programme and the operation’s coordinator.

The operation was carried out within the framework of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods initiative which aims to identify and dismantle the organized crime networks siphoning billions of Euros from the public purse through the trafficking of illicit goods.

“The high number of arrests and illicit goods seized during Operation Black Poseidon highlights the international scale of illicit trade and the benefits national police, customs and other law enforcement agencies derive from working closely together with representatives of regulatory bodies and the private sector to stop the criminal networks behind this crime,” said John Newton, the head of INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods unit.

INTERPOL’s initiative combating illicit trade will assist police across its 190 member countries to not only target the transnational crime groups but also identify the routes used in transporting illicit goods, which are often also used for human trafficking and drug smuggling.

The key role that industry will play in supporting INTERPOL’s initiative was underlined with the decision by Phillip Morris International in June to pledge 15 million Euros over a three-year period to INTERPOL's Fund for a Safer World to help the world police body develop a strong global programme against trafficking in illicit goods.