Italian police seize 18 million fake goods

Italy's financial police on Tuesday said four Chinese businessmen were under investigation after officers seized 18 million counterfeit goods, including clothes, toys and kitchenware, in two raids in Padua and Rome.

Italian police seize 18 million fake goods
Italian police seized 18 million counterfeit goods. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

The Padua operation in northern Italy saw 11 million items confiscated "in the biggest raid this year," officer Luca Gelormino said.

In Rome, street vendors peddling the wares in the capital unwittingly lead police to the warehouses where the goods were being held, sparking a search of vehicles leaving the site and uncovering some four million illegally imported items, police said.

"The raid was fast-tracked when we found counterfeit make-up products containing very harmful substances," said Teodoro Gallone, the officer who was in charge of the operation.

A stop and search of a truck with Lithuanian number plates also uncovered 1,500 boxes stuffed with 2.5 million fake Italian brand 'Pompea' socks.

The products were smuggled into Italy from Britain under false documents, Gallone said.

A 49-year-old Chinese businessman known only by the initials Y. B. is under investigation in Rome following the raid, as are three of his fellow countrymen in Padua, the officers said.

The three in the ancient northern city near Venice had already made €6 million from the scam, they said.

"We found toys and kitchen utensils made of plastic that came from European garbage dumped in China," Gelormino said.

"The next step will be to reach the very places in China where goods are produced," he said.

According to Italy's anti-counterfeiting agency, Indicam, about 60 percent of fake goods sold in Italy are clothes and accessories.

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Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon

A runner taking part in an ultra-marathon in the Alps has died during the race after a fatal fall on a high-altitude mountain path, emergency services told AFP on Wednesday.

Runner dies in Italy-to-France ultra marathon
The race traverses Mont Blanc. Illustration photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP

The 35-year-old from the Czech Republic was taking part in a warm-up event ahead of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a famed endurance event that takes place every year around western Europe’s highest peak.

The man fell during the night after setting off with more than 1,000 other runners from the Italian ski resort of Courmayeur on Tuesday afternoon along the 145-kilometre course of the TDS race to Chamonix in France.

Emergency services were alerted after midnight on Wednesday and flew in a helicopter to the scene of the accident in the Bourg-Saint-Maurice district, but they were unable to revive him, local police commander Patrice Ribes told AFP.

Organisers of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, which takes places on Friday, said it was the first death in one of their events since their start in 2003.

Elsewhere in the French Alps on Wednesday, a 60-year-old climber died in the Isère region after suffering a fall of 30 metres.