Police seize $3M worth of counterfeit goods in GTA
Published Monday, December 3, 2012 10:23AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 1:33PM EST
Police agencies in the GTA have seized more than $3 million worth of knock-off goods in what is being described as one of the biggest busts of its kind in the region’s history.
At a news conference Monday, police showed off counterfeit goods that were passed off as the real thing, including designer clothes, erectile dysfunction pills, gold and silver, beauty products, DVDs and children’s toys.
One of the items, a Denver Broncos jersey with quarterback Peyton Manning’s name and number printed on it, was coloured with dyes that had traces of urine, police told reporters.
Officers also discovered bags full of underwear with the name "Calvin Klain" - a knock-off of Calvin Klein - branded on the waist band.
The counterfeit goods were seized from retailers in Toronto and Peel and York regions during an investigation dubbed Project Consumer Safety.
According to police, the football jersey and the other poorly-made goods that were seized pose significant health and safety hazards to consumers.
Police pointed specifically to the knock-off toys because they do not meet industry standards and are known to contain toxic substances.
Investigators described the sale of counterfeit goods as a pervasive and lucrative trade, with profits being funnelled to things such as organized crime or terrorism.
As an indicator of the cash that can be made from black-market sales, Det. Rob Whalen said police seized a large quantity of Canadian, U.S. and British currency that they believe is legitimate.
Whalen said the suspects would import some products for $2 or $3 a unit and then sell them for hundreds of dollars.
Police typically see a spike in the sale of counterfeit goods around the holidays, and they’re urging people not to buy items that they know or suspect are fake.
Staff Insp. Bryce Evans of the financial crimes unit said counterfeit items are becoming much more diverse, with officers discovering everything from fake auto parts and electronics to knock-off clothes and cosmetics that pose a risk to people who use them.
Knock-off down jackets that were seized in the past were found to contain bacteria, mildew and chicken parts, while the trim around the hood contained German shepherd fur, Evans said.
Police said several suspects are facing more than 40 charges, including nine counts of fraud over $5,000 and 11 counts of possession of property obtained by crime.
Additional arrests are possible, police said.
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