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Thai border market vendors torpedo crackdown on counterfeits

BANGKOK – Thai police were licking their wounds Wednesday after an enraged mob of vendors chased them away when they tried to seize fake goods at a famous border market.

The Department of Special Investigation said 12 officers were injured when police and French Embassy observers went to the Rong Kluea market on the border with Cambodia to seize items such as fake perfumes that violate intellectual property laws.

A DSI statement said its officers identified themselves and presented court orders to vendors before trying to seize their goods, which it said the vendors acknowledged were counterfeits.

It said about 400 Cambodian labourers then surrounded the police and began pelting them with rocks and bottles, and also pushed over an SUV belonging to the police and damaged a truck being used by them. Video circulating on social media showed people running up to remove items from the back of the truck before it drove off as people chased it, tossing rocks and other objects.

The DSI said the police were withdrawn from the market, in the Thai district of Aranyaprathet, to ease tensions.

Thailand, like much of Asia, is awash with counterfeit products ranging from cosmetics to DVDs.

The market sells clothes, bags, shoes, watches, food and knock-offs of famous fashion brands, though it originally was best-known for second-hand goods.

The DSI described the market as one of the main centres in Thailand for counterfeit goods, and vowed that those involved in Wednesday’s action would face criminal charges.

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This story has been corrected to show that the police vehicle pushed over was an SUV, not a pickup truck.