$100 million plus counterfeit goods seized
More than $100 million in counterfeit clothes and shoes were seized by the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (CTOC) in an operation on Barry Street in downtown Kingston yesterday.
The raid was conducted on two adjoining Chinese-operated stores. Two persons were arrested and charged with unauthorised use of trademark, breach of the Customs Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
This is the second major raid in two weeks. Assistant Superintendent of Police Victor Barrett said this was being done as part of C-TOC's mandate to rid the country of illegal goods, which is a breach of intellectual property rights.
"We have our intel operatives on the streets, so we do test purchases. As soon as we can verify that counterfeit goods exists, at a particular location, we move in," said Barrett.
Several brand names, such as Nike, Gucci, Converse, and Louis Vuitton, were among the counterfeit items seized. Barrett said this operation would be extended to the rural areas and is encouraging business owners to get themselves streamlined.
"We are definitely going out of town; we are going to Montego Bay, St Ann,
St Thomas, and Westmoreland," said Barrett. He advised merchants to get authorisation from the brand holders, for example, Puma or Nike, which have local agents.
Barrett explained: "This sort of activity robs the Government of revenue. It impedes brand loyalty in the sense that if a customer buys a particular brand (of shoe) and if within a week that shoe has been destroyed, then that particular customer will not want to buy that brand anymore. That's a fake shoe, but the brand suffers. In addition, you don't know the composition of these products; you don't know what kind of chemical, so it's also a health hazard."
A pregnant woman who said she came to get a shoe for her son expressed her disappointment at the raid.
"Them cheap, and them look original; that's why mi buy from them. Why them a lock them down, though? A just now them realise them fake? Look how long the people them deh right yah so, " said the dismayed shopper.