Operation OPSON VI, the joint Europol-INTERPOL operation targeting counterfeit and substandard food and drink, as well as the organised crime networks behind this illicit trade, has resulted in the seizure of 9 800 tonnes, over 26.4 million litres, and 13 million units/items worth an estimated EUR 230 million of potentially harmful food and beverages ranging from every day products such as alcohol, mineral water, seasoning cubes, seafood and olive oil, to luxury goods such as caviar.
This year, 61 countries (21 EU Member States) took part in operation OPSON VI, which was carried out for the sixth time in a row and saw an increase in participating countries (57 countries in 2016). Each participating country implemented a national operational phase between 1 December 2016 to 31 March 2017, involving police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector. More than 50 000 checks were carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
“OPSON VI confirmed the threat that food fraud represents, as it affects all types of products and all regions of the world. In addition we saw some new trends such as counterfeit mineral water. Once again the good cooperation on a European and global level was paramount to disrupt the criminal gangs behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink,” said Chris Vansteenkiste, head of Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition – IPC3.
“This operation has once again shown that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit. Whilst thousands of counterfeit goods have been taken out of circulation, we continue to encourage the public to remain vigilant about the products they buy,” said Françoise Dorcier, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme.
The annual operation coordinated by Europol and INTERPOL is supported by customs, police and national food regulatory bodies in addition to partners from the private sector. Since its first edition in 2011, the number of countries taking part in OPSON has grown every year.