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Counterfeit goods are displayed at a Toronto police press conference in 2007. Lawyers say brand owners, regulators and police have barely scratched the surface of a growing, multibillion-dollar illegal industry.

Tibor Kolley

Police have seized more than $3-million worth of goods and arrested 10 in a major pre-Christmas crackdown on counterfeit products.

A joint operation by investigators in Toronto, Peel and York region, as well as the RCMP and other partners, found knock-off designer products, shoddy electrical goods, fake identification papers and even fraudulent pharmaceuticals, including erectile drugs. Many of these could pose risk to people using them, police said.

"I don't know anyone who can condone the sale of counterfeit medication," said Detective Robert Whalen, of the major crime unit at Toronto Police Service's 55 division. "This can and will make you ill, and possibly kill you. We've had cases in Toronto, and Canada as a whole, where counterfeit medication has been linked to the deaths of several people."

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At a press conference Monday police showed off examples of the seized products to demonstrate the scale of the counterfeiting and reiterated warnings about the trade funding organized crime and possible terrorism. They also noted that consumers cannot expect counterfeited objects to be made to the same standard as the faked label might suggest.

Staff Inspector Bryce Evans cited reports showing that 80 per cent of counterfeit items sold in Canada come from China and that 30 per cent of these pose "a serious health and safety risk" to Canadians.

"Tests conducted on a popular counterfeit Canadian jacket revealed that the down jacket contained unhealthy elements, including bacteria, mildew and chicken parts," he said. "The trim around the hoods can contain a variety of furs, including that of German Shepherds."

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