France cracks down on counterfeit designer goods ahead of Paris Olympics

Paris has long been one of the fashion capitals of the world, and the hunger for luxury goods has brought with it a thriving counterfeit goods market. As the city prepares to host the Olympic Games, however, police have ramped up existing efforts to rid the streets of fake brand name bags, shoes, and clothing.

French authorities have not only carried out raids on markets known to already stock knock-offs and made arrests, but also trained over 1,000 customs agents to ensure that fewer ersatz products make it into the country in the future. Their efforts have made a marked difference, with more counterfeit goods being taken off the streets than ever before.

The Saint Ouen flea market just across the Boulevard Périphérique from Porte de Clingnacourt has, in recent years, become a hotbed for fake goods, with stalls stocking everything from Nike shoes to Dior hoodies and Louis Vuitton purses, all counterfeit. As Reuters reports, in April police moved in at dawn on April 11 and confiscated 63,000 items, all of which were subsequently destroyed via trash compactor. Ten people were arrested for their involvement in the sale of the goods.

Seine-Saint Denis, a department to the northeast of Paris, is by comparison quite poor, and is home to a number of informal stalls set up by those trying to sell their wares to tourists and locals alike. A number of events, including the closing ceremony, are set to be held there, and in the lead-up to the games, police have removed a number of stalls and installed metal barriers making it difficult for vendors to set up shop. In Montmartre, a similar situation has played out, with around 1,000 informal stalls being dismantled by police and dozens of tonnes of fake goods destroyed. 

According to data from the Direction Générale des Douanes et Droits Indirects, customs agents confiscated 20.5 million counterfeit products in 2023, a 78 percent increase over the year before. The nation's actions are not unique. In the lead up to the Olympic games in Beijing and London, similar efforts were made to rid the streets of fake products, to varying degrees of success.

Image: Title: Counterfeits
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