India part of global ops, targeting trafficking of illegal food & beverage

Source :IANS
Author :IANS
Last Updated: Wed, Jul 21st, 2021, 18:00:40hrs
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Interpol and Europol coordinated operation OPSON 2020, which targeted trafficking of counterfeit and substandard food and beverage.

The operation ran from December 2019 to June 2021 and involved law enforcement authorities from 72 countries, including India.

During operation, 15,451 tonnes of illicit products were seized with a value of about 53.8 million Euro. The law enforcement agencies across 72 countries carried about 68,000 checks, issued 663 arrest warrants and searched 2,409 locations.

A total 42 criminal networks were disrupted, said Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency. Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol assists the 27 European Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime.

During operation, trade of bivalves unfit for human consumption was looked upon leading to eight arrests, probe in to seven companies, seizures of 120,000 Euro, 25 vehicles and 12 vessels. The operation was carried out by the Spanish Civil Guard --- Guardia Civil -- and the Portuguese National Guard -- Guarda Nacional Republicana.

Similarly, adulteration of alcohol beverages was looked upon. "The criminal network used colourants to change the quality of the beverages; 14 arrests; seizures included 47,660 litres of whiskey and 9,550 litres of alcohol for the manufacture of fraudulent products; operation of the Guardia Civil and customs authorities," Europol stated.

The teams carried out targeted action on honey in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom (Scotland) and the United States.

A total 495 checks were carried out and seizure of more than 51,000 kg of fraudulently treated honey was made.

The agencies carried out targeted action on alcohol and wine in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom (Scotland).

A total 1.7 million litres of wine, beer and alcoholic beverages were seized and it was found that most infringements were related to wine and vodka.

The targeted action was carried out on horse passports and horse meat in Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy and Spain.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said, "Removing such an enormous quantity of illegal and often dangerous products from the market is a concrete example of how international police cooperation is making the world a safer place."

He further stated that food crime may not always seem like a top policing priority but operations like OPSON X demonstrate the massive profits these products generate, which can then fund other organized crime activities.

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

--IANS
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