Spanish police have smashed an organized criminal syndicate based in the Madrid region that produced up to 150,000 counterfeit CDs and DVDs a day, and was worth €219 million ($339.5 million) a year.

In simultaneous raids in six towns to the south of Madrid on June 4, police arrested 32 people from China in what they say is the biggest single anti-piracy operation in Spain.

More than 50 police officers from several different units (economic, violent crime, immigration, judicial) raided two warehouses and four homes. They seized 466,000 blank discs, 144,000 recorded CDs, 162,000 recorded DVDs, 15 industrial photocopiers, 40 CD and DVD burners, €6,400 ($9,900) in cash, and four vehicles used to transport the pirated discs to the gang's sales network in at least 9 Spanish cities.

Among the pirated CDs seized were copies of the double CD by Spanish group Amaral, "Gato Negro-Dragon Rojo" (EMI), which was released on May 27 and went straight in at No. 1 in this week's Spanish Media Control charts.

Police were assisted by anti-piracy experts from Spanish labels body Promusicae, and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), which represents the recording industry worldwide.

Len Hynds, IFPI head of enforcement, says: "Some people think that burning counterfeir CDs is a cottage industry, but this criminal gang was running an operation that required massive investment and was the equivalent of a fully-functional legitimate CD plant."

Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola adds: "This was a magnificent operation that involved cooperation from several arms of Spanish law enforcement. The gang was hurting legitimate music sales and throttling the level of investment that can be ploughed back into discovering and nurturing the next generation of artists."