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UNODC-WCO Global Container Control Programme in the fight against the trafficking of counterfeit goods


On 14 January 2014, UNODC launched a new international anti-counterfeit campaign: "  Counterfeit: Don't Buy into Organized Crime ".

The illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods is often linked to other serious crimes. Europol has warned that counterfeiting is an increasingly attractive avenue for organized crime to "diversify their product range". Evidence suggests that criminal networks use similar routes and modus operandi to move counterfeit goods as they do to smuggle drugs, firearms and people. 

Proceeds from other crimes also feed into the production and distribution of counterfeit goods. There have been reports of authorities uncovering operations where proceeds from drug trafficking were channelled into counterfeiting, and where profits from the sale of counterfeit goods were used to further criminal's other illicit operations.

The trading of illicit goods for other illicit items is another trend which is seemingly intensifying. Whereas in the past, illicit commodities were bought with cash, organized crime groups are increasingly exchanging goods, such as swapping drugs for counterfeit items and vice-versa. By using counterfeit goods as commodities for full or part payment between organized criminal networks, these groups reduce the amount of capital they need to transfer thereby reducing their exposure and risk.


Evidence gathered from the results of the joint UNODC-World Customs Organization Container Control Programme (CCP) highlights the extent of illicit trafficking of counterfeit goods by sea. While initially established to assist authorities intercept drugs being trafficked in shipping containers, the targeting skills developed through participation in the CCP has seen the type of offences detected by authorities rapidly diversify.

Between January and November 2013, more than one-third of containers stopped for inspection by CCP teams worldwide, and subsequently seized, have involved counterfeit goods.

In 2013, the CCP in Latin America and the Caribbean registered over 108 cases of trafficking of counterfeit goods, leading to the seizure of products of different renowned brands. The counterfeit goods included knock offs of popular brands including Sony, Nokia, Samsung Dior Dolce and Gabbana, Chanel, Gucci, Diesel, Bvlgari, Lacoste, Carolina Herrera, Adidas, Nike Asics, Puma, Disney, Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, Swiss Army and Oakley, amongst many others.  

For More Information on the Container Control Programme, click Here

For More Information on UNODC's New Campaign "Counterfeit: Don't buy into Organized Crime", click here.