Illegal street sales, with the mantero’s (looky looky men) as the most widespread, vastly increase during the summer months, creating untold problems in the province, especially in the Orihuela Costa , and Torrevieja, in which towns the local police have only recently increased their surveillance following a campaign spearheaded by The Leader Newspaper and the long standing complaints of small businesses and hoteliers about the sale of counterfeit products in the areas most frequented by visitors and tourists.
In Alicante, their activity on beaches and promenades is considerably increased although police pressure often moves the manteros around. They can now also be seen moving northwards along the coast to other areas frequented by tourists such as Calp, El Campello and Santa Pola.
Although the police conflict with the manteros does reach the heights of that seen during the summer of 2012, when there were clashes between vendors and police in Alicante and Torrevieja, and where there were dozens of injured policemen and a near diplomatic crisis with Senegal, which sent its foreign minister to Alicante, it is still a problem that remains, and one that is said to causes annual losses of 47 million euros to local commerce.
In Barcelona, Mallorca, Madrid and Castellón the manteros can be seen regularly protesting in the streets where the police often conduct raids with goods regularly confiscated and fines to the buyers of up to 500 euros.
On the Alicante coastline, police action is now beginning to bear fruit, with both the Civil Guard at the borders, and the massive seizures of stock by the National Police, seemingly slowing the operation down. In recent weeks a number of trucks have been stopped on their way to make deliveries of illegal goods in areas such as the Marina Alta, Benidorm and Alicante, where the Community now ranks as the third in seizures after Madrid and Barcelona.
In the province, the National Police has carried out 14 operations for crimes against industrial and intellectual property so far this year, with 74 arrests and the seizure of over 250,000 illegal items, the cost of which on the open market would be in the region of 6 million euros.
In 2018 there were 18 operations with 92 detainees and the seizure of 80,000 items, valued at two million euros but this year, to July, that number has been multiplied by three.
A Provincial Police source said that “we are now targeting major distributors of these illegal items, and there are traders who have had as many as 10,000 items removed from their stalls, vans, warehouses and trucks.”
In Orihuela Costa, where there were major complaints of manteros from merchants bar and restaurant owners and hoteliers, the Local Police have redoubled their operation in the Cabo Roig and Aguamarina area, where the 50,000 permanent residents increases to 250,000 in the summer.
“Up to 100 people were found carrying out this illegal activity but today it has been eradicated. The operation will remain in place throughout the summer and we are now looking to maintain it all year round,” says the Councillor for Security, Ramón López.
According to the latest report from the European Office on Intellectual Property (EUIPO), in June 2019, the sale of counterfeit items in Spain causes losses close to 7,000 million euros a year. Translating to a loss of 53,500 jobs.
“In clothing and footwear alone, to mention just one example of a sector directly affected by Illegal Street sales, companies lose 3,800 million euros every year due to counterfeiting,” says EUIPO spokesman Luis Berenguer.
“There is a need for greater awareness in the municipalities and in their persecution by the police, for the damage to the brands and because it undermines industrial property, ”says Francisco Rovira, general secretary of the Alicante Federation of Small and Medium Commerce, which includes 44 associations in the province already 10,000 businesses.