fake luxury goods-crackdown

SEOUL, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Some 21 local people have been arrested on suspicion of producing and selling counterfeit designer goods with a retail value of 3.5 billion won (US$3.13 million), the Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday.

After three months of an intensive crackdown this year, the city's special judicial police booked the suspects on charges of violating the trademark law and seized their fake goods.

It is the first time that the city's police have brought the violators to face criminal charges. The investigators said they are entitled to investigate them after being given such rights by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.

The suspects, whose identities are being withheld by the police, allegedly produced 4,266 items from 24 categories such as bags, sunglasses and belts.

The fake goods include imitations of popular Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags, Cartier watches and mufflers from Louis Vuitton and Burberrys, the police added.

Of the suspects, one man had a history of being punished six times for the same charges, and there was a couple allegedly working together to make the fake goods, according to the investigators.

Those found guilty of the charges will face up to seven years in prison or up to 100 million won in fines, the police said, adding the seized articles will be discarded.

"Such fake goods are eating away at the Korean economy and hurt the national image among foreign tourists. To root them out, we will continue to crack down on them," said Park Jung-kyu, the director of Seoul's special judicial police. Park asked for citizens not to buy those imitations.

According to the Web site havocscope.com, which gathers data on illegal black market activities, South Korea has the 11th largest fake luxury goods market in the world, with its size as of last year reaching 27.4 trillion won.

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