A series of police raids across Manchester have uncovered £15 million’s worth of counterfeit designer clothes and accessories.
The raids, conducted by Greater Manchester Police in partnership with City of London Police, also revealed stashes of fake branded electricals and bootlegged medication.
Around 45,000 items were seized with an estimated loss to brands of £15 million if sold at retail price, City of London Police said in a statement.
Handbags, shoes, perfume, make-up, sunglasses were among the cache, as well as fake brand labels that are often imported separately to be sewn onto counterfeit clothing and shoes.
Four premises in Strangeways, Manchester, were raided between Monday and Wednesday this week, following an operation by the two forces’ intellectual property crime units.
Six people were arrested for offences relating to the importation and distribution of the fakes, while a seventh was arrested for intent to illegally supply prescription drugs.
Sixty officers and staff – including members of the Border Force and Immigration Service – worked on the operation, which was based on intelligence from a previous counterfeit goods investigation.
Superintendent Peter Ratcliffe, of the City of London Police’s intellectual property crime unit, said: “Selling counterfeit goods is illegal and, in the case of counterfeit electricals and medication, extremely dangerous.”
He added: “For the public, it is vital to remember you don’t know what other crimes you are funding when buying counterfeit goods, or the conditions those working for the criminals are conducting their business in.”
Inspector Helen Hallworth, of Greater Manchester Police’s City of Manchester division, said: “Selling counterfeit goods is illegal and the money made in these shops helps to fund organised crime, lining the pockets of criminals for much more sinister crimes which can have a devastating impact on our communities.”