Cannabis and suspected fake clothes seized from Walsall's Bescot Market
Bags of cannabis and hundreds of suspected fake clothes, trainers, perfume and jewellery were seized in a pre-Christmas raid on a Walsall market.
Walsall Council’s Trading Standards team, alongside police and brand protection officers, raided the popular Bescot Market on Sunday.
Tens of thousands of pounds worth of fake goods was seized from the market, including 33 bags from one trader alone.
It is not known if the cannabis found was intended for supply or for personal use and police are now investigating.
Acting on information supplied to them, enforcement officers visited stalls where suspected criminal activity was taking place and began investigations.
At one stall seemingly selling a modest amount of hats and clothing, a man claimed to be holding the fort for the owner and said he knew nothing about the items on sale.
But as officers started finding goods they believed to be fake under the stall, the man started giving the goods away for free to passing shoppers as a “Christmas gift” to them before he left the scene.
Further checks of a van parked behind the stall revealed it belonged to the man on the stall and was packed with a range of goods.
Officers seized a total of 33 bags full of clothing, perfume, jewellery and accessories bearing top designer names including Versace, Armani, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Dior, Ugg and Louis Vitton.
Elsewhere, officers uncovered boxes of Nike and Adidas trainers which filled a further 14 bags to be taken away.
T-shirts and tops bearing the names of popular rock bands were also seized from another stall.
The teams were subject to animosity and abuse from members of the public as they carried out the raid but Lesley Jenkins, from Walsall Trading Standards, said the result fully justified their reasons for carrying out such enforcement.
She said: “I think the operation went well, considering the traders were obviously jittery before we had even arrived.
“We’ve had bigger hauls in the past but we are looking at tens of thousands of pounds worth of goods and we’ve caused disruption to criminal activity which was the main aim of the day.
“Counterfeiting is a good way of making a lot of money fast and that money gets put into more serious organised crime.
“You have links with drugs, trafficking and terrorism offences and that is something a lot of people don’t see. They see us as coming out to spoil their Christmas shopping but they don’t stop and think, ‘what does the money go into?’”
She added operations such as this were a partnership with other organisations such as the police, Bescot market operators and brand protection teams – who work on behalf of the big companies.
She said: “We couldn’t do a lot of this without their input. These days the copies are so good, it’s difficult for us to see whereas they know the minute details to tell whether it is genuine or not.”
By Gurdip Thandi
Local Democracy Reporter
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