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$6.5M worth of fake goods seized, 21 arrested in Canada-U.S. counterfeit investigation

Fake purses and cell phone cases on display at Toronto police headquarters, Nov. 29, 2013. The items were seized in the Project PACE counterfeit investigation.

TORONTO – Police have arrested 21 people and laid 115 charges in connection with a Canadian and U.S. counterfeit investigation dubbed Project PACE.

Toronto police, along with police and security forces in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, unveiled details of the investigation Friday morning.

Police seized counterfeit goods valued at over $6.5-million.

Some of the items seized include Chanel watches and Gucci handbags, contact lenses, prescription drugs like Cialis and Viagra, as well as rolls of fake TTC tokens.

“These goods are fraudulently marked to make shoppers believe that they do meet safety standards,” said Det. Andrea Chedas, of the Financial Crimes Unit. “They rip shoppers off and they introduce significant health and safety risks in the process.”

The Toronto police-led investigation targeted businesses in Toronto, Peel, York, Durhan, South Simcoe and Windsor, alleged to have been manufacturing and selling the fake goods.

The people arrested are from Markham, Mississauga, Toronto and Richmond Hill.

Police services in York, Durham, and South Simcoe, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Homeland Security Investigations were involved in the investigation.

Charges against the accused include fraud, possession for the purpose of trafficking in stolen goods and possession of property obtained by crime.

Police are warning consumers to avoid buying counterfeit goods, which they say pose serious health and safety risks and fund international organized crime and terrorist groups.