Police carry out biggest ever anti-piracy operation in Spain
75 arrests; counterfeit music and film syndicate dismantled
October 28, 2005 Police in Spain have smashed a syndicate believed to be responsible for releasing over one million pirate music and film discs every month into the Spanish market.
In what is the largest operation against music and film piracy ever undertaken in Spain, police arrested 69 individuals on October 26 allegedly involved in the illegal production, storage and retail distribution of music and film discs.
Today, as a result of follow-up enquiries, Spanish police raided more premises in the suburbs of Madrid resulting in six more arrests, the seizure of another 50 CD drives and 150,000 discs.
IFPI, representing the recording industry worldwide, has welcomed this major operation by the Spanish authorities. The country, which has one of the worst piracy problems in Europe, suffers from a piracy rate of 24% - equivalent in value to US$77 million.
Police raided nine addresses on October 26 in Madrid, believed to be the main centre of the illegal business. During the operation, 69 people all Chinese nationals were arrested including three alleged to head the organisation: Yi Dong Han, Zhixionh Xu and Zhubao Dong. Four have been sent to prison on judicial warrant, and many others had no legal permits to stay in Spain. A total of 23 addresses were searched in several locations in Spain including Madrid and Alicante apparently used by the group as a distribution centre for the Levante coast.
Large amounts of illegal material were seized by the authorities including over 60,000 recorded CD-Rs, almost 50,000 DVD-Rs and over 130,000 inlay cards, as well as over 200 CD drives and four industrial colour copying machines. 2 Thousands of Euros in cash and 21 counterfeit identity cards including four stolen passports were also found in the searches.
The group was believed to have been producing over one million CD-Rs and DVDRs every month. The music included both local Spanish artists and well-known international titles. Some of the films had not yet been legally distributed.
Over 200 police officers from Madrid, Alicante, Burgos, Salamanca, Malaga, Orense, Valencia and the cities of Getafe and Puertollano took part in the raids, with support from rights holders associations including local recording industry group Pro-musicae, and IFPI s Enforcement arm.
Earlier this year, IFPI held a press conference in Spain to call for urgent action against the country s piracy problem. IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said: Spain was once a thriving legitimate music market known for the quality of its artists and the success of its music industry. Spain is now known for the most serious piracy problems in Europe. We are very encouraged by this operation and we hope and expect that these actions and those to follow will have a positive impact on Spanish music and the creative economy.
Spanish police held a press conference in the capital Madrid yesterday to announce details of the operation, which was attended by the Spanish Minister of the Interior, JosÃ© Antonio Alonso who emphasised the massive damage done by piracy. He stated that this is the most important operation against industrial piracy undertaken by the police to date. He said that today a kilo of pirate discs is five times more profitable for pirates than a kilo of hashish. He added that in the past 18 months pirates had flooded the Spanish market with 50 million counterfeit music or film discs, destroying 1,200 jobs and leading to the closure of 85 small businesses in the sector.
Spain was named as the only Western European country in IFPI's 2005 Commercial Piracy Report top ten priority countries list. Piracy has devastated the country's music industry, with sales of recorded music having fallen by 32% since 2000.
For further information contact the IFPI press office on +44 (0)207 878 7935