Laois at centre of Europe wide counterfeit operation which led to Gardaí seizing thousands of fake products

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

garda garda

More than 6,000 items seized

Laois was at the centre in a major Garda operation involving police forces in Europe through Europol which led to the confiscation of more than 6,000 counterfeit goods including the seizure of 4,000 illicit set-top TV boxes.

Gardaí say Operation Aphrodite, is a Europe-wide operation which involved the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (GNBCI) in Ireland. Gardaí worked closely with counterparts in Italy, through the Italian Finance Corps (Guardia di Finanza) lead out in the undertaking by over 20 European countries of operational activity associated with Operation Aphrodite, targeting intellectual property (IP) rights infringement.

The latest phase called Operation Aphrodite III, has involved targeting the online sale and advertising, including through social media, of illicit television products. Gardaí set out what resulted in Ireland has a result of the operation.

"An Garda Síochána undertook 14 individual investigations relating to sale of counterfeit and copyrighted goods during the course of the operation, with GNBCI coordinating the investigation, where appropriate. The investigations were undertaken in Dublin, Waterford, Tipperary, Mayo and Laois.

"In total, 6,340 suspected counterfeit or copyrighted items/materials were seized by An Garda Síochána. The nature of products seized, included, suspected counterfeit computer batteries and accessories, phone parts and accessories, various types of clothing including sportswear and footwear, and illicit set-top boxes.

"Investigation files are being prepared for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration, relating to suspected breaches of the provisions of Section 140 of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and Section 92 of the Trademarks Act 1996 (Counterfeiting).

"The aforementioned investigations resulted, in particular, in the seizure of 4,000 illicit set-top boxes in three particular searches undertaken in the midlands and Dublin. Two of the searches targeted wholesale level distributers.

"In the course of the operation, the input coordinated through GNBCI resulted in a total of 4,200 websites selling copyrighted materials across the European Union and beyond being identified," said a Garda statement.

The Gardaí add that the operation was coordinated at a national level by the GNBCI who engaged with industry to obtain evidence of intellectual property right infringements online. The GNBCI operated as the national contact point for relevant investigation. Gardaí say evidence packs were developed and then forwarded to local Gardaí for investigation.

Gardaí added that this operation was fully supported by specific industry partners.