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News article26 July 2022European Anti-Fraud Office1 min read

Operation against fake pesticides: over 1,000 tonnes stopped, factory dismantled

Man wearing an OLAF vest looking at container

The seventh edition of Operation Silver Axe ran between January and April 2022 and focused on ports, airports and other entry points where the import and export of illegal and counterfeit pesticides could be detected. 1,150 tonnes of pesticides were seized in total, a factory producing fake pesticides was dismantled, and ten people were arrested.

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) provided its support by alerting the customs authorities in EU Member States on suspicious shipments. A total 31 countries – including from outside the EU – participated in the operation, under Europol’s coordination. Support also came from the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the European Commission’s DG SANTE, CropLife Europe and CropLife International.

Ville Itälä, Director-General of OLAF, said: “The smuggling of pesticides poses a threat throughout the food chain, from farmers to consumers, because it allows dangerous products to reach our market and our soils. Ultimately, operations like Silver Axe also lead to a more environmentally friendly Europe. We achieve that by combining OLAF’s and EUROPOL’s expertise and resources – together, we have many years of experience in building enforcement capacity and strengthening operational activities.”

An analysis of the activities seems to confirm that what OLAF had detected in other areas of counterfeiting and smuggling could also be true for fake pesticides: smugglers have increasingly been breaking up shipments of goods into smaller consignments, and they seem to be gaining interest in producing inside the EU. The aim of both modi operandi is to try to circumvent border controls.

For more information, please see Europol’s press release.


Publication date
26 July 2022
European Anti-Fraud Office
News type
  • OLAF news article