• France's news in English

Avoid 'bargain' luxury produce: French police

AFP/The Local · 17 Feb 2015, 08:58

Published: 17 Feb 2015 08:58 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Lyon-based Interpol revealed on Monday that it had netted thousands of tonnes of fake food and drink, including imitation caviar found in France.

Operation Opson 4 was run by Interpol and its EU sister agency Europol in 47 countries during December and January, 20 of them within the European Union.

French customs uncovered dubious Chinese caviar in boxes marked "Aquitaine caviar" after one of France's most famous seafood-producing regions, as well as 17 tonnes of krill meat hidden in containers in the Channel port of Le Havre.

Colonel Bruno Manin, the head of the French police's unit involved in Opson 4, said: "When a high-end product is offered at three to four times cheaper than in the shop it's better to resist the lure."

Trafficking in fake food and drink appeals to criminals as it produces hefty profits and poses a low risk, especially when the deal is done online.

"The internet is definitely a strong accelerator for these crimes," as it makes it difficult to track fraudsters, Manin said.

In all some 2,500 tonnes of fake and substandard food and more than 275,000 litres of fake or diluted alcohol -- enough to fill more than 1,000 bathtubs -- were confiscated.

The haul included 20,000 litres of fake whisky in Thailand, false malt in Uganda and fake beer in Rwanda. In Britain, police shut down an imitation vodka factory, where nearly 20,000 empty bottles were ready to be filled, Lyon-based Interpol said.

In Italy, the carabinieri busted a mozzarella trafficking ring in the southern Salerno region that made the famous cheese from sour milk produced in Eastern Europe.

In Tuscany, police discovered defrosted rotten fish and shellfish sprayed with a mix of citric acid, phosphate and hydrogen to mask its decay.

The two-month-long swoop targeted shops, markets, airports, harbours and industrial zones and involved police and customs officers as well as public and private consumer watchdogs.

Story continues below…

The cross-border syndicates focused mainly on alcoholic beverages, seafood and meat, Interpol said.

"Fake and substandard food and diluted, poor quality beverages are a real health and safety threat," said Mike Ellis, who heads the Interpol unit that tracks the trafficking of illicit goods.

"People take significant risks and sometimes die because of criminals' greed," he said.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available