A cross-industry investigation into counterfeit CD and DVD merchants in Britain last weekend culminated with 57 arrests. The arrests were made during raids on 12 market sites throughout the east and n

A cross-industry investigation into counterfeit CD and DVD merchants in Britain last weekend culminated with 57 arrests. The arrests were made during raids on 12 market sites throughout the east and northeast of England.

The operation -- code-named "Zouk" -- was led by the British government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), in cooperation with police and Trading Standards officers. The DWP's anti-fraud investigators also worked closely with the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, the British Phonographic Industry and the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

The raids yielded more than £500,000 ($913,000) worth of illicit DVDs and CDs.

Those arrested could face charges of benefits fraud and copyright offenses. According to a DWP statement, 45 of those arrested were claiming benefits from the government.

"This is an excellent example of how well we can tackle benefit fraud when we work closely with other agencies," comments Britain's anti-fraud minister, Chris Pond. The DWP estimates that benefit fraud in Britain costs about £2 billion ($3.65 billion) each year.

The DWP also undertook a series of raids last month as part of the "Zouk" operation. Those raids netted £1.1 million ($2 million) in counterfeit goods and led to investigations into 15 individuals.