Authorities have smashed what is described as a major counterfeiting ring supplying the Durham area in the north of England.

Authorities have smashed what is described as a major counterfeiting ring supplying the Durham area in the north of England.

Three key suspects were arrested Monday (May 31) following a series of raids coordinated by Durham Constabulary and video industry body Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). The operation followed a six-month investigation by the British Phonographic Industry's (BPI) Anti-Piracy Unit. The three suspects were subsequently charged with conspiracy to defraud the music and film industries.

According to the BPI, tens of thousands of counterfeits CDs and DVDs were confiscated during the bust, with an estimated black market value in excess of £50,000 ($91,000). Copies of new albums from Avril Lavigne, Morrissey and PJ Harvey were discovered among the thousands of illegal master MP3 discs.

"This was a massive factory, capable of producing over three thousand fakes per day; easily enough to supply the entire Durham counterfeiting network," explains detective constable Steve Chinner of Durham Constabulary.

The BPI estimates that the racket has made well over £1 million ($1.8 million) in profit.