Europe

Spain police crack down on counterfeit clothing ring

A handout picture released by the Spanish Interior Ministry shows a member of the Spanish police standing in front of bags of counterfeit clothes
Image caption Police officers seized bags of counterfeit clothes in Xinzo de Limia

Police have arrested 99 people, including two imams, over the sale of 235 tonnes of fake designer clothes and shoes in Spain, officials say.

Counterfeit items were made in illegal factories in Portugal and then shipped to distributors in north-western Spain, Spain's interior ministry said.

Sales generated profits of 5.5m euros ($7.5m, £4.6m) over two years, it said.

Part of the money was held at two mosques in the cities of Ourense and Xinzo de Limia, according to officials.

Donations

"The network, of Moroccan origin, had 'regional delegates' across Spain who distributed over the past two years 235 tonnes of fake garments and footwear," the interior ministry said in a statement.

"Part of this black money was hidden along with bank cards and other financial documents belonging to the organisation in the mosques of Ourense and Xinzo de Limia."

Among those arrested was the imam of the mosque of Xinzo de Limia, who is suspected to be one of the ringleaders.

The mosque received nearly 100,000 euros ($140,000, £83,000) in donations from the ring, officials said.

The imam at the mosque in the nearby city of Ourense was also detained. Police suspect him of helping to launder money earned by the ring.

Police seized more than a million fake items in Spanish cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Malaga, according to the report.

They also confiscated 60 bank cards, several weapons and software containing the logos of more than 200 registered brands.

Officers in northern Portugal closed 10 illegal factories where the fake goods were made.

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