The ringleader of a European fake CD scam has been hit with a four-and-a-half-year jail sentence, one of the lengthiest handed down for commercial copyright theft in British legal history.

Farhat Nissa, 35, was sentenced this week for her part in an estimated £5 million ($9.5 million) counterfeiting ring which imported urban "mixtape" CDs from the Czech Republic and sold them in British stores and markets.

Her accomplices, Wasim Mir, 37, and Naveed Shaikh, 38, received prison sentences of two-years-and-six-months, and one year, respectively. They now face an application for their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

"This was an international operation that involved a pan-European supply chain. Experienced suggests that organised criminals will enter whatever markets they think they can make a quick profit in," comments IFPI head of enforcement, Len Hynds. The sentence, he added, "clearly shows that music piracy is not a soft option for organised crime and that people who make illegal profits by abusing others' rights will be punished."

The gang's fake compilations used tracks by artists such as Destiny's Child and 50 Cent, and were deemed of such high-quality that investigators from the BPI and IFPI had to employ cutting-edge forensics to locate the discs' origin.

The BPI suggests that the gang imported more than 400,000 boxsets containing between two and five CDs, some with DVDs, selling for about £12 ($23) a title.