Gardaí believe the 15,000 pairs of counterfeit boots seized on the northside of Cork city originated in China and were destined to be sold on to market stall holders around the country.
The raid on the premises at the Hollymount Industrial in Hollyhill is only the start of what will be a lengthy investigation.
The counterfeit boots, made to look as though they were the upmarket Ugg brand, were seized when gardaí and customs officials raided the premises at 10.30am last Thursday.
Acting on intelligence, they arrived at the premises armed with a search warrant and arrested two men as part of the operation.
The men, aged 59 and 29, were later released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The average retail price of a genuine pair of Ugg boots is €200. If all the boots were to be sold at that price, it would have netted those involved €3m.
However, gardaí believe they would have been sold for far less. Many of them had a brand label attached, but some did not.
Such was the scale of the seizure, gardaí worked through the night and it was lunchtime yesterday before they had completed an inventory of all the boots and loaded them onto three articulated lorries.
Superintendent Con Cadogan, who is in charge of policing the area, said the boots would be taken to a secure location as they had to be kept as evidence until the investigation was completed.
He said the boots seemed to be of good quality, but appearances could be deceiving and they might disintegrate quickly if worn.
It is understood that the Cork City garda division’s fraud unit, which had led the operation, has been in touch with Ugg.
The company is likely to send representatives to view the boots in the next couple of weeks. They will be trying to gather evidence which might pinpoint exactly where they were made and how they arrived in this country.
Garda sources also confirmed yesterday that hundreds of thousands of euro of counterfeit goods seized in Midleton, Co Cork, on Nov 28 originated in China.
The items seized at an industrial unit on the western outskirts of the town included fake Ugg boots, Jimmy Choo shoes and Chanel handbags.
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