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A hundred officers from the Valencia regional police have joined a task force to focus on markets around the region, specifically aiming to combat the growing thefts of fruit and vegetables from farms.

The operation, which was announced this week by the Minister of Justice and the Interior, Luis Santamaría, began on the 1st of October, with the aim of establishing and confirming the origin of goods being sold at both street markets and retail points.

Santamaría said that although the officers will not distinguish between the type and size of establishments, “there are certain sites with more evidence than others of stolen material, and there will be more emphasis on those”, in particular calling on markets, roundabout sellers and some commercial establishments “that have proliferated in municipalities and cities”.

Under the jurisdiction of the Guardia Civil and National Police, crimes against farmers in the region between January and July of this year have fallen by 10.08%, from 1,894 investigated thefts in 2013, to 1,703 in the same period of this year for offences investigated by the Guardia Civil, and a drop of 6.81% of those dealt with by the National Police.

However, officers from the Regional Police have already identified 11 illegal fruit sellers considered a serious risk and closed them down in collaboration with the department of health, discovered a network of three clandestine greengrocers, resulting in the detention of two people. They have discovered four illegal outlets selling snails, which led to the arrest of five people, and the detection of several points of illegal fruit sellers that have resulted in files already being opened.

Since the inauguration of the special group of officers from the Policía de la Generalitat in April last year, a total of 362 dedicated inspections have been carried out throughout the region, 211 in Valencia, 84 in Castellón and 67 in Alicante. According to data revealed by Santamaría, “The members of the group have carried out around 10,090 patrols, have identified about 19,500 people and have made controls of around 30,000 vehicles. Furthermore, 84 people have been arrested, a total of 1.3 million kilos of products have been processed and 84 people have been arrested.

In addition, a working group has also been crated that will monitor possible counterfeited goods being sold from markets, another problem that has grown in recent years.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/45097/

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