Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Huge haul of fake clothes seized in London

Detectives say they have seized a record number of counterfeit designer goods, bringing down an international crime syndicate in the process.

More than 50,000 items including clothing, footwear and handbags were found during raids on 30 premises across London on Thursday, police said.

The multi-million pound haul included brands such as Nike, Ugg and Gucci.

About £350,000 in cash was also seized and six people were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.

Investigators believe the counterfeit goods were smuggled into Britain and the United States in shipping containers from China and Malaysia.

'Global problem'

The raids followed an investigation involving City of London Police and US customs officials.

A further nine people in the US face prosecution for smuggling huge quantities of counterfeit goods.

These include 120,000 pairs of Nike shoes, 500,000 Coach handbags, 10,000 pairs of Coach and Gucci shoes and 500 Cartier watches.

City of London Police Commissioner Mike Bowron said: "We have listened to the concerns of the business community which has resulted in a determined international effort to combat an aspect of financial crime which has far-reaching implications for UK, the rest of Europe and the US."

John Morton, of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the smuggling and trafficking of counterfeit goods was a global problem.

He said: "Only through our combined efforts will we be able to successfully confront this international challenge."

City of London Police said counterfeit crime costs legitimate British businesses £3.5bn a year.

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