A multi-faceted international investigation targeting counterfeit food and drinks netted a massive haul of goods between December 2020 and June of this year.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (EUROPOL) coordinated with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in a joint operation titled OPSON 2020.
The collaborative probe brought together local authorities from 26 EU member states and 72 nations around the world.
As a result of details uncovered during widespread investigations, officials searched 2,409 locations and issued 663 arrest warrants, disrupting 42 criminal networks, according to a Wednesday press release.
The raids resulted in the seizure of more than 15,000 tons of illicit products valued at approximately $63 million.
Efforts related to alcohol were led by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), resulting in the collection of 1.7 million liters of fraudulent beer, wine, and spirits.
“The risks posed by these products to EU citizens and businesses are very real, and OLAF is proud to have worked hand-in-hand with Europol and national customs and police authorities in identifying, tracking and stopping the counterfeiters and fraudsters in this important part of the food and drink sector,” OLAF’s director general, Ville Itälä, stated in the release.
While the majority of the alcohol uncovered was vodka and wine, the haul included 47,660 liters of whiskey. The adulteration of alcoholic beverages with colorants led to the arrest of 14 individuals by the Guardia Civil, Spain’s oldest law enforcement agency.
The Italian Carabinieri Corps made five house arrests in connection with wine counterfeiting, a recurring issue in the region. Back in October, a ring in Italy was busted for producing fake Sassicaia, a prestigious wine adored by connoisseurs and collectors.
Details regarding varieties and labels recovered in the latest operation were not released.