Spanish authorities have made the largest recorded seizure of fake designer goods across Europe to date.
Seventeen people were arrested as police raided 14 bazaars, four stores and three homes in the Europol-backed operation.
About €70,000 euros in cash and three vehicles were also seized alongside the huge five tonne haul of counterfeit goods which amounted to more than €300 million.
The criminal organisation was based primarily on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura and acquired the goods in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate in Madrid.
Spanish police said agents of the National Police, in a joint operation with Customs Surveillance of the Tax Agency, launched the investigation after learning of several businesses on the island of Tenerife selling the counterfeit goods.
“The police operation, called Django, culminated in the dismantling of a criminal organization specializing in the large-scale distribution and marketing of counterfeit products of exclusive brands that operated on the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura,” police said.
“The organsation acquired the counterfeit material mainly in the Cobo Calleja industrial estate in Madrid, and marketed its products especially in tourist areas, to take advantage of the presence of a large population with short periods of residence in the country.”
The operation was launched in September last year by the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit of the Provincial Brigade of the Judicial Police of the Provincial Police Station of the National Police of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
“This unit was aware of the existence of a wholesale point of sale for counterfeit leather goods in the south of Tenerife,” the police said.
“Surveillance and follow-up work led to location of the person in charge, and observed how he sold these products to various individuals, both for street vending and for sale in bazaars.
“After that, steps were taken with parcel companies to determine that the shipments came from Fuerteventura, and involves several citizens of Chinese origin who would make up the leadership of the organisation.”