Four tonnes of fake football shirts have been seized by police during raids ahead of the World Cup opening ceremony today (November 20) - worth a whopping £500,000. Cops raided lock ups and houses across the country in a crackdown on counterfeit goods, which they said are linked to organised criminal groups.
They arrested six people and seized £12,000 in cash in the co-ordinated swoops, led by the City of London Police. Photos released by the force show hundreds of fake shirts in a storage facility and on a market stall.
Detective Sergeant Matthew Hussey said: "We regularly see links between the counterfeit goods trade and organised criminal groups. Counterfeiting is one of the primary methods used by these groups to make money, and enables them to fund serious offences such as drug trafficking and money laundering.
"We would always urge fans to think twice before buying fake merchandise, and will continue to work with our partners to take action against those who sell it."
Searches of addresses in Bristol and Northampton yielded £250,000 of fake football shirts. Meanwhile, a large quantity of counterfeit England shirts, FIFA World Cup badges and £2,000 in cash were found across four premises in Leeds, West York.
And in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, shirts were seized from a storage facility and £10,000 in cash was found at a residential property, a police spokesman said.
Marcus Evans, deputy director Intelligence and Law Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said: "Criminal networks are seeking to exploit (fans’) loyalty for their own financial gain by targeting the market with illegal counterfeit products - with little or no regard for their quality or safety.
“We are pleased to support the intensified enforcement activity to clamp down on the sale of such illicit goods, working in partnership to help protect the public from this type of crime."
All those arrested have since been released under investigation.