Police seize counterfeit goods worth more than £7.5m in Manchester raids

More than £7.5 million of suspected counterfeit clothing, watches and perfume has been seized by police during raids in Manchester.

The operation, which involved 100 police officers and staff, saw three premises in Cheetham Hill searched and 15 people arrested on Wednesday.

Of those arrested, 11 were detained for offences relating to the distribution of counterfeit goods and four for immigration offences, the City of London Police said.

Officers worked through the night to clear the three units, with shoes, handbags, wallets and sunglasses among the items seized, police said.

Police arrested 15 people during the raids (City of London Police/PA)

The operation was led by City of London Police’s intellectual property crime unit (PIPCU) and Greater Manchester Police.

The search warrant was carried out following a previous operation involving the sale and distribution of counterfeit items online, police said.

PIPCU’s police staff investigator Charlotte Beattie, who is leading the investigation, said: “The counterfeit goods business regularly helps to fund other types of serious organised crime.

“An individual may think that when buying counterfeit goods they are only affecting a multimillion-pound brand, but in reality they are helping to fund organised criminal activity. ”

Counterfeit goods can pose a health risk to consumers as they usually do not go through legal health and safety checks, she added.

Mobile phones and cash were seized from those arrested during the raid, with the investigation still ongoing, police said.

Chief inspector Kirsten Buggy, of Greater Manchester Police’s North Manchester division, said: “Yesterday’s operation is one of the largest of its kind ever carried out in the area and has taken a meticulous amount of planning and preparation.”

Phil Lewis, director-general of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, said: “These Manchester traders selling counterfeit goods are blatantly defrauding consumers.

“They’re harming legitimate businesses and making absolutely no contribution toward public services or the UK economy.”

He added: “We urge consumers to stop buying goods from these types of premises and think twice about the goods they buy online, because counterfeit goods are often of poor quality and, more worryingly, can be unsafe and even dangerous.”

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