More than 660 people were arrested or put under investigation in a major police operation across 10 Asian countries that targeted criminal networks trading fake and potentially dangerous products, Interpol announced Monday.
The international police organisation said security forces and border agencies in countries ranging from Cambodia and China to India and the Philippines had seized counterfeit goods worth nearly $50 million (39 million euros), including alcohol, cigarettes, cosmetics, clothing and electrical goods.
In one case, an organised criminal group operating a factory producing fake cosmetics and packaging was dismantled in China.
"Testing determined the fake cosmetics contained high levels of mercury, which can be toxic to humans," Interpol said about the operation conducted in May.
In China overall, 589 people were arrested and $37 million in illicit goods recovered.
Authorities in Hong Kong meanwhile discovered false compartments in container trucks during an examination, leading to the discovery of more than 600 smuggled electronic items, it added.
In Vietnam, hundreds of counterfeit items were seized from street hawkers and shops, Interpol said.
"Many people are not aware of the different types of everyday items which are being counterfeited and traded to profit criminal organisations," said Brian Chan, Criminal Intelligence Officer with Interpol's counterfeit unit.
This is not the first major transnational operation of its kind.
In February, Europol -- the European Union's law enforcement agency -- announced that an operation targeting counterfeit schemes in 33 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia had netted more than a thousand tonnes of fake food and drink.