Police must target the sources of illegal wares

Lots of us came back from holidays this year wearing the same huge, fluorescent wristwatch with a silicone band. It was this year’s big success for seaside peddlers. In such bright colors, so cheap – just 5 euros if you bought it on Zouberi beach in Attica, 20 if you bought it on Myconos – and with so much pressure from the peddlers who’d flocked to the beaches, it even won over those who never buy fakes and don’t support the black market. Now those same customers, looking at their watches that have already stopped working, sympathize with Athenian storekeepers reduced to despair by the market in fakes and who lecture African sellers who approach them in cafes, selling new releases on CDs and DVDs. In Athens, the municipal police chase illegal peddlers and confiscates their wares. In the past few months, there have been 14,1218 confiscations of 578,488 products and 937 fines have been issued. «The products won’t fit in our storeroom,» said Deputy Mayor Andreas Papadakis, «but the peddlers are back in the same spot the following day. «In order to solve the problem, the state has to hit harder, at the source, the warehouses where the products are stored. It’s a matter for the financial crimes squad and the police. It’s not the responsibility of the municipal police.» In fact, 90 percent of the products sold on the streets by peddlers in every city in Greece come through the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki. In 2009 alone, customs officials seized 446,823 items (not including cigarettes), chiefly clothes, the majority of which were from China. The black market in Greece is estimated to be in excess of 15 billion euros a year, while lost tax revenue amounts to around 5 billion euros.

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