Some 90,000 counterfeits of 10 Swiss watch brands were seized in late January in Mexico City, in a raid by the Federation of Swiss Watchmakers FH and Mexico’s federal authorities. FH called it the most important seizure of fake watches ever carried out in Latin America.
The project was initiated by FH’s Latin America representative, based in Asunción, Paraguay, and its Latin American anticounterfeiting group Groupement anticontrefaçon (GA), which includes major Swiss brands. FH and GA worked six months with the Mexican federal public prosecutor’s department and local law enforcement in preparation.
The Jan. 20 raid was in the district of Tepito, reportedly known for underworld activities and trafficking in illicit goods. Fake watches are generally stored (and even assembled) in warehouses before being sold or channeled to markets elsewhere.
Some 300 men—including members of the local police, Mexico’s federal investigation agency, and the public prosecutor’s office—stormed suspected warehouses in the middle of the night.
In addition to fake watches, police found large-caliber weapons, drugs, and a workshop to reproduce pirated CDs. That shows counterfeit watches are “closely bound up with trafficking in weapons and narcotics overseen by organized crime,” said FH. Two people were arrested.
In addition to raids, GA teaches customs officials and other authorities to identify fakes, lobbies for anticounterfeit laws and enforcement, offers technical expertise, and stays in touch with the media.