£1.5m fake designer clothes seized in raid

Counterfeit designer clothing with a street value of around £1.5million was seized in an undercover operation by Staffordshire Trading Standards, a court heard.

£1.5m fake designer clothes seized in raid

The haul from a storage unit in Birmingham comprised of more than 37,000 individual items purporting to be well known brands like Dolce & Gabbana and diesel.

However, they were all fakes and destined to be sold to unsuspecting customers at markets all over the Midlands and beyond, said Mr Tony Watkin, prosecuting.

After weeks of watching the warehouse in Tyseley, trading standards officers and West Midlands Police pounced, arresting four men at the warehouse.

Two of them, brothers Qassim Zafar and Shamas Zafar, were about to set off in vans loads up with the fake designer wares.

The brothers were each given prison sentences suspended for a year - Qassim, aged 22, of Douglas Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham got 20 weeks and Shamas, aged 20, of the same address, got 13 weeks. Both admitted two charges of possessing counterfeit goods.

Co-defendants Mohammed Yasir Zabe, 32, of Maybank, Bordesley Green, Birmingham and Aaron Mills, 24, of Warwick Road, Tyseley, Birmingham were given community orders, Zabe to do 270 hours unpaid community work and Mills 210 hours. Both admitted one charge of possessing counterfeit goods.

The brothers and Mills were also each ordered to pay £1,040 costs.

Judge Mark Eades told them: "It is pretty obvious some of you know a lot more about this operation than you are prepared to let on. You are involved in a cover up to protect those higher up the chain.

"For you it is an easy way to make money. This warehouse was chock-a-bloc with counterfeit goods. You were there in different roles, loading or unloading vehicles or distributing fake goods to the markets. Judging by the amount of goods in the facility it was a major operation. Somebody was reaping substantial rewards."

Mr Watkin told Stafford Crown Court on Thursday that the surveillance at Storage Solutions in King Street Tysley began in October 2013. Throughout the course of the month, all the defendants were captured on video at the premises loading and unloading large quantities of the counterfeits.

Mr David Watts, for the Zafars, said Qassim had recruited his younger brother in to the operation, for which they were paid "cash in hand".

Mr Yasser Gulraiz, for Mills, said: "He was by no means a controlling figure. He was a loader and unloader."

Mr Richard Davies, for Zabe, who faces investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act, said the father of four had lost his job at Land Rover as a result of this case. "He was not involved in the wider operation of the offence."

The year-long investigation in to the Tyseley warehouse developed into one of the largest anti-counterfeiting operations of its kind, according to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). The operation involved trading standards officers from across the West Midlands and was also supported by Staffordshire and West Midlands police forces. The operation was funded by the National Trading Standards Board.

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