Roughly 25 million Chinese made fake designer products have been seized in Milan in what was one of the largest seizures of goods in Italian history.
Many Chinese in Milan were using the same shipping company in Genoa and this made the finance police suspicious. Their investigation led to discovery of six warehouses and 11 shops in Milan's Chinatown filled with counterfeit goods.
The finance police said toys, footwear, clothing, leather goods and electrical products were piled high in the warehouses. They seized 25 million Chinese made fake products with a value estimated at $141 million.
Outlining the results of the operation, the finance police said they now have a list of 35 people, all Chinese, believed to be involved in the illegal trade. They added that the products were to be sold in Chinese stores and in market stalls where many Italians shop.
Presenting the confiscated material, one safety expert showed why some of the goods were considered unsafe.
Holding up lights for a Christmas tree, the expert said, "This is a very dangerous situation and it can be clearly seen by everyone." And to show what he meant, he easily split the wires using his hands.
The finance police said many of the toys had no instructions and were not safe for children to play with. But, they said the toys were ready to be placed on the Christmas shopping market. Many of the goods, according to the police, were knock-offs of designer products.
Commander Michele Carbone said the finance police consider counterfeiting a strategic sector for three main reasons: because it's damaging to the economy, it leads to financial losses by the state and it's dangerous to the health of citizens.
Italy's labor ministry Tuesday expressed concern about the number of Chinese firms operating illegally in the country.
Presenting the results of spot checks carried out last month at almost 500 Chinese firms, the ministry said 82 percent were charged with violations. These included tax evasion, breaches of hygiene and safety regulations and exploitation of illegal immigrants and minors.
Commenting on the report, Labor Undersecretary Roberto Rosso said "not only is there an attempt to smuggle fake goods into Italy that have been manufactured in China, but also to import these very production processes."