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Wednesday 21 April 2010

Patricia Covarrubia

Colombia counterfeit liquor industry – from a simple garage to a proper manufacture!

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Browsing for IP news, I read with interest a report written by CAROL MALAVER from the Colombian newspaper EL TIEMPO. The statement informs that in Bogotá, the illegal business of counterfeit liquor has been transformed from a crime produced in a garage to and organised crime which operates in well equipped spots.

Diana Garcia, a pharmaceutical chemistry expert on the subject, said that this type of crime is nowadays controlled by organized criminals. She explained that the bottles used are often original and filled with a mixture of alcohol, water, dyes, and in some cases cheaper liquor. "The criminals would buy the bottles to recyclers. Therefore, we ask consumers to break their bottles from being used for crime". She also adds that lids, boxes and labels can be reused.

In another part of the report CAROL notes that Garcia adds that this crime "not only is affecting the industry and trade marks, but also Treasury departments and nationals, namely, health and future investments in education and sport departments.” To fortify this statement, the journalist also quotes Harold Parra Ortiz, revenue Director for the Government of Cundinamarca, who appears to agree with the previous statement. He said that this type of sell - counterfeited liquor, no only affects the department's economy but also the population at large:
1.- It is detrimental to business because they discredit their brands and reduce their income
2.- It affects public health because they put at risk the lives of people consuming adulterated liquor and,
3.- It reduces tax revenue that trade contributes to the department.

Jorge Baquero, Police Commander of Kennedy, explains that his department had dismantled 14 criminal groups in 2009 and 2 this year. He tells that on May 2009 he was stunned when he found a counterfeit liquor industry in the south of the capital. He explains that the manufacturing did have “nothing to envy to those operating legally”. There was a truck full of empty bottles (15,000) of different brands, ready to be repackaged with adulterated liquor. Inside the store, there was specialised machinery for the production, blending and packaging, as well as 12,000 lids, 800 labels and 150 bottles of whiskey ready for market. "There was even a section on quality control, sealing system and x-rays”.

The report basically deals not only with the situation of counterfeit and the industry in general but opens the mind of consumers – the risks. The blog in several occasions have mentioned the problem with counterfeits in medicines, foodstuff and alcohol and thus, I believe that the article on the newspaper is approaching the right audience. I believe that counterfeit will exist as long as it has consumers. We as a population are also responsible, don’t you think?

The article can be read here (Spanish).

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia