Millions of Counterfeit Toys Confiscated
On 8 March 2021, OLAF and Europol reported on an operation that resulted in the seizure of close to five million toys with a total value exceeding €16 million.
Between October 2020 and January 2021, Operation LUDUS ran across 24 countries (20 EU Member States and 4 non-EU countries) with 4,768 inspections carried out. 44,127 samples were tested in laboratories, 125 judicial cases were opened, and 11 individuals were (thus far) arrested. In almost all cases, the counterfeit toys had not been subject to mandatory safety tests and had no warnings or advice on the packaging. Many of the toys contained toxic chemicals or exceeded legal decibel limits, thereby placing the health of children at risk.
Operation LUDUS was organised by Europol and supported by OLAF and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). OLAF mainly supported the operation by running a targeted control action and by coordinating the activities of customs agencies and market surveillance authorities in the 20 EU Member States involved. Europol coordinated operational activities across the globe, developed risk indicators, which supported national law enforcement and customs authorities in prioritising checks, and provided a platform for real-time information sharing and cross-checking of intelligence. Operation LUDUS was the first operation on this scale targeting counterfeit toys.