China blamed for fake goods seized in Italy

Italy's police said Saturday they have seized so far this year 52 million counterfeit items, including train tickets, smartphones, condoms and detergents, with much of them coming from China.

The financial police's counter-fraud division said 97 members of organised criminal gangs, 41 percent of them Italian, were arrested during the same first seven months of 2012 in connection with the counterfeit goods.

A statement said that 35 daily monitoring operations helped deprive the underground economy of some two million euros (2.5 million dollars) of illicit revenue per day.

It said two million counterfeit train tickets worth 14 euros apiece (17.5 dollars) for the trip from Termini station to Fiumicino airport in Rome were made in China, along with 100,000 condoms and one million toys.

In Fiumicino, the authorities dismantled a gang that imported through various ports in northern Europe fake Ray Ban sunglasses as well as Nike and Adidas shoes. Seven Chinese living in Rome were arrested, the police said.

In the Sicilian port of Palermo, the authorities seized 9,000 boxes of brand name detergent that contained completely ineffective powder.

In the northern city of Salo, police confiscated fake Apple, HTC and Nokia smartphones that were sold via the Internet.

In Venice, a classic distribution scheme of fake Rolex, Philippe and Cartier watches was discovered at the height of the tourist season.

Fake Hogan sports shoes produced in underground factories were being exported from Naples and the port close to Caserta.

Police in Florence obtained "impressive" results on Italian-Chinese counterfeiting gangs, the statement said. They identified 155 illegal operators who conducted some 242,000 illegal money transfers using 58 aliases.

Since 2010, the same operation has led to the discovery of money transfers to China totalling 4.5 billion euros (5.6 billion dollars), the implication of 581 suspects, including 24 who were arrested, and the seizure of 207 firms, 283 properties and 471 cars.

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