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26 April 2012 - Media release

Fakes worth millions seized in INTERPOL-led operation across Americas

Operation Maya results released on World Intellectual Property Day

LYON, France – Fake goods including toys, computer software, clothing, beauty products, engine oil and cigarettes worth nearly 30 million US dollars have been seized in an INTERPOL-initiated and coordinated operation across 11 countries in the Americas.

Codenamed Maya the two-week operation (1 – 15 March) saw more than 1,000 interventions by police, customs, investigators and Intellectual Property (IP) crime experts at key locations such as land and sea and airport border control points in addition to markets, shops and street vendors, with 200 individuals arrested or currently under investigation and more than a million items recovered.

The operation also revealed increasingly elaborate efforts by criminals to avoid detection, with items smuggled into a country via one route while counterfeit trade mark materials including stickers for computers, batteries, mobile phones and even car emblems, were sent separately to be used later to ‘brand’ the products.

“Operation Maya again shows that there is no product which is not being counterfeited and criminals are using every means available to traffic fake and illicit goods,” said Operation Maya project manager, Roberto Manriquez, a crime intelligence officer with INTERPOL’s IP crime unit.

“As with legitimate trade, criminals also follow the market and we have seen an increasing number of fake and illicitly traded electronics such as phone and computer parts and accessories.

“This operation has again shown to effectively tackle this type of transnational crime, coordination between police and all involved partners, such as customs, prosecutors and the private sector is essential, and the results we have seen across all 11 countries are due to their commitment and support,” concluded Mr Manriquez.

In addition to counterfeits, the operation also identified routes used by organized crime groups for trafficking in illicit goods, stolen works of art, archaeological remains, wildlife and even child abuse images.

Although investigations are currently ongoing in many of involved countries, INTERPOL is announcing the  initial results from Operation Maya to mark World Intellectual Property Day, April 26.

INTERPOL’s IP crime programme activities revolve around three main areas: raising awareness and capacity building, delivering integrated training and operations, and international co-operation to assist all 190 member countries in identifying the individuals and transnational crime networks behind the trafficking of counterfeit and illicit goods.

Operation Maya which was launched with the support of the US Department of Justice and US Patent and Trademark Office  was based on INTERPOL’s successful Operation Jupiter model which, since its launch in 2004, has resulted in more than 1,660 arrests, the seizure of more than 12 million counterfeit products worth more than 500 million US dollars.

Countries involved in Operation Maya: Belize, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the USA. For more information on individual results, please contact the national enforcement agencies in the countries concerned.

INTERPOL marks World Intellectual Property Day with Operation Maya results

Operation Jupiter V