73 held in crackdown on luxury goods ring

73 held in crackdown on luxury goods ring

Thousands of fake luxury products have been confiscated and 73 suspects detained in southern China in a crackdown on what police say was a major source of counterfeit goods.

More than 20,000 bags and suitcases purporting to be famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Coach were confiscated in the suspects' hideouts along with 17 manufacturing machines, 91 bank cards and deposit books, the Ministry of Public Security said.

Investigators said that more than 960,000 fake bags of various brands had been manufactured by the ring and many of them had been exported to the United States and the Middle East.

They estimated the value of the infringement of intellectual property rights case to be 5 billion yuan (US$802 million).

In January this year, police received information that the suspects, led by a man surnamed Qian, were making fake Louis Vuitton and Coach bags in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, and exporting them to countries including the United States.

Export network

Police launched an investigation and contacted US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their help.

Throughout the next few months, police in Guangdong, Fujian and Anhui provinces mapped the gang's manufacturing, storing, transport and export network with the cooperation of the US authorities.

Police launched a raid to capture Qian and his accomplices as they tried to smuggle another batch of fake bags to the US.

Police said that in 2010 Qian rented several stores in Guangzhou to handle orders and set up more than 10 hideouts for the manufacture of fake bags and other leather items and accessories.

The gang then smuggled the fake products to the US and the Middle East with the help of overseas clients, police said.

Qian and the gang are said to have made huge profits from the business.

They had even managed to buy more than 33,000 square meters of land in Anhui Province where they were planning to build a factory, police said.