Spain's paramilitary Civil Guard has jailed 10 people in a massive CD and DVD piracy bust code-named "Cancionero" (Song-writer).

Spain's paramilitary Civil Guard has jailed 10 people in a massive CD and DVD piracy bust code-named "Cancionero" (Song-writer). Labels' body Promusicae said Monday (Nov. 6) that the operation's forgeries were so perfect that for years they were sold in shops and markets as legal copies at normal prices, often before the CD's official release date.

Promusicae president Antonio Guisasola says "we consider this to be the most important police operation in our country in the last few years."

The Civil Guard probe began last April in the north-western city of Lugo, but Guisasola says the gang had operated for years with some of its distribution network having been arrested in raids across the country at various times. The head of the gang, a 47-year-old man identified only by the initials B.P.G., was arrested in the northern Basque city of Bilbao together with his wife and brother-in-law. B.P.G. has been arrested on three previous occasions in connection with crimes against intellectual property.

Promusicae says the agents needed three trucks to take away the gang's duplication equipment from two industrial warehouses in Bilbao, where the copies were made. The gang operated in many parts of the country, but its main base was in the north-western region of Galicia near Portugal. Guisasola says the total amount of intellectual fraud could reach some €15 million ($19 million).

In a statement, Promusicae says the copies were so perfect that Promusicae anti-piracy experts had to use scientific measuring equipment to detect the forgeries. The gang used latest-generation digital technology to manufacture more than 1.7 million CD and DVD copies in the past two years, says Promusicae. The quality of the forgery included digital quality silk-screening processes and exceptional boxing and labeling.

Promusicae says it supplied the Civil Guard with details of possible suspects capable of reproducing such falsifications. The 10 people jailed included "all the historical members of musical piracy in Spain", some of whom owned record labels and distribution companies, says Promusicae.

A total of 11 buildings were raided in the operation. Among the equipment seized were more than 100 duplication machines worth more than €240,000 ($305,000), two digital silk-screen machines, more than 100,000 CD and DVD units worth €1.2 million ($1.5 million), 60,000 covers and labels, printers, and CD-box manufacturing equipment.

Guisasola says the gang had caused "great damage to the legal music distribution sector, as the CDs and DVDs were traded as legitimate material not comparable to other less refined piracy we are used to seeing in Spain". The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has identified Spain as one of the 10 countries worst affected by music piracy.

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