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Cops seize $465m in counterfeit goods

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2014    

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POLICE from the Anti- Trafficking in Persons and Intellectual Property Vice Squad of the Organised Crime Investigative Division have seized more than $465 million worth of counterfeit goods in three separate raids between Monday and yesterday.

Head of the squad, Deputy Superintendent Carl Berry, said the raids were part of operations 'Swirl' and 'Push Back', which target perpetrators of intellectual property crimes which have been raking in millions into the coffers of organised criminal networks.

Among the items seized were two truckloads of counterfeit or knockoff Clarks shoes, bootleg rum, fake pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and a quantity of compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs). The police also seized a quantity of computer hard drives and other equipment during the raids.

"We did operations in parishes — St Mary, Kingston and St Catherine," Berry told reporters.

Police said 1,857 pairs of fake Clarks shoes of many varieties and sizes, valued at $13.5 million, and 4.5 million CDs and DVDs valued at $450 million were among the items.

A CD or DVD is sold for $100 on the streets.

"We know that our counter-offensive can reap rewards. Our focus at the Anti- Trafficking in Persons and Intellectual Property Vice Squad and, by extension, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, is to ensure that persons realise that intellectual property crimes are not only seen as a soft crime but that it is equally dangerous. It can cost lives," Berry said.

Four men between the ages of 25 and 40 were arrested. Two have been charged with breaches of the Trademark Copyright Act.

Two were picked up in Spanish Town, St Catherine, one man was nabbed in Kingston and the other in St Mary.

Among the pharmaceuticals seized were insulin, saline, Novocain, and injection needles.

"We are conducting investigations into trying to find the source and origins of these supplies," Berry said.

The police also found a quantity of counterfeit rum which Berry said could be very harmful to persons who unknowingly consume the bootleg liquor.

The seals on the bottles of rum were tampered with as the spelling of the brand was awry and close inspection showed that the broken seals were burnt back together.

Berry said it was easy to find out if the rum was fake by turning the bottle upside down and if bubbles appeared to be floating up it means there is sediment inside the alcohol.

The estimate put on the rum seized was $500,000.

Berry said proceeds from the sale of counterfeit compact discs and DVDs eventually end up in the hands of transnational criminal organisations, which he said was just as evil as gun-toting criminal.

"Don't buy burnt CDs. They may be inexpensive but somebody is suffering at the end. You may contributing seriously to the coffers of transnational organised criminals," he said.

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