Organized pirate CD crime network smashed in Madrid
Madrid, 5th June 2008
Spanish police have smashed an organised criminal syndicate based in Madrid that was producing counterfeit CDs and DVDs on an industrial scale. The gang operated burners that could produce €600,000 worth of pirate CDs and DVDs each day.
More than 50 police officers were involved in raids on two warehouses and four homes in the Madrid area that were being used to store vast numbers of blank CDs and DVDs, industrial photocopying machines, CD and DVD burners and other equipment.
The raids led to the arrest of 32 members of the gang involved in the production and distribution of these counterfeit discs. Police also seized 466,000 blank discs and 306,500 recorded CDs and DVDs, as well as 506 burners during the raids. Four vehicles used to deliver the pirate discs to the gang's network of salespeople were also confiscated.
Police discovered that the gang was also involved in people trafficking from China and that its network of salespeople was bonded labour being kept in conditions of semi-slavery. Further investigations revealed this network of salespeople spread across nine cities.
The production capacity of the seized burners is estimated at 150,000 units daily and they were operating on a 24-hour basis to produce counterfeit discs with a street value of €600,000 each day or the equivalent of €219 million per year.
These raids built on the success of Operation Ave which took place in March and saw Spanish police successfully tackle another organised criminal syndicate involved in producing and distributing counterfeit CDs and DVDs. Following those earlier raids the Spanish ministers for Culture and the Interior wrote to the relevant rightsholders confirming the importance to them of tackling organised counterfeiting gangs.
The raids involved officers from the Grupo de Delitos contra la Propiedad Intelectual e Industrial de la UDEV-Central (Economic and Violent Crime Unit of the Spanish National Police), the Grupo VI de la Brigada Central de Redes de Inmigración, de la Comisaría General de Extranjería y Documentación (Unit VI of the Head of the Immigration Squad) and the Grupo XXIII de la Brigada Provincial de Policía Judicial de Madrid (Unit XXIII of the Madrid Local Squad Office of the Judicial Police). Police were assisted by anti-piracy experts from ProMusicae, which represents the recording industry in Spain, and IFPI, which represents the recording industry worldwide.
Len Hynds, Head of Enforcement at IFPI, says: "Some people think that burning counterfeit CDs is a cottage industry, but this criminal gang were running an operation that required massive investment and was the equivalent of a fully-functional legitimate CD plant. This gang was making €600,000 a day from its illegal activities, which shows why CD piracy is such an attractive option for organised crime."
Antonio Guisasola, Head of ProMusicae, adds: "This was a magnificent operation that involved cooperation from several arms of Spanish law enforcement. They have managed to smash an organised criminal gang that was making millions of euro in profit while exploiting some of the most vulnerable people in society. They were also hurting legitimate sales of music and thus throttling the level of investment that can be ploughed back into discovering and nurturing the next generation of artists."For further information contact:
Alex Jacob, IFPI London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7878 7935 (Press Office)
Tel: +34 91 417 0470