Hundreds of thousands of euro worth of counterfeit shoes, handbags, and clothes destined to be sold on the Christmas market have been seized in Co Cork after a joint operation between customs and the gardaí.
Officers swooped on a warehouse on the western outskirts of Midleton at Owenacurra Business Park just before 3pm yesterday, where they discovered inferior products from China were being “upgraded” with designer labels which could have netted the counterfeiters “a huge profit”.
Three men, one understood to be in his 30s and the others middle-aged, were on the premises when the raid took place. All three were said to be Irish.
As part of the operation, gardaí and customs officers accompanied by a sniffer dog, also searched a house in the Carrigtwohill area, which sources say may be associated with the seizure of the counterfeit products.
Inside the house, gardaí discovered what they described as “a significant six-figure sum of cash”.
The women’s shoes were predominantly being given labels purporting their manufacture by Jimmy Choo and Ugg. Some of the handbags had Chanel labels attached to them.
The original products were very inferior to those which would be manufactured by the well-known companies, and the mark-up for selling them off as authentic would have been considerable.
A senior customs source said: “We believe the products originated in China and were shipped to Paris, where they were kept in warehouses. They were then road-freighted into Ireland.”
While gardaí made no arrests either the Carrigtwo-hill house or the Midleton premises, it is expected a number of people will be questioned about the seizure of the counterfeit shoes, handbags, and clothing, and the large sum of money in the coming days.
Both gardaí and customs officials said last night that the operation was “ongoing”.
Customs sources said they believed the goods were going to be sold at markets and house parties, which would have deprived the State of a significant amount of money through Vat and income tax.
“There was also the knock-on effect that legitimate retailers would have lost income as a result — which they could badly do with in the run-up to Christmas,” the customs source added.
Meanwhile, in a separate operation codenamed “Coco”, sniffer dog Harvey helped customs seize contraband cigarettes, loose tobacco, and €12,000 in cash following the search of house on the northside of Cork City.
A man in his 50s was questioned and a file is being prepared for the DPP.
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