Paris police seize 270 tonnes of mini Eiffel towers

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Paris police said Thursday they had seized 270 tonnes of miniature Eiffel towers and arrested four people in an operation against illicit street vendors.

Police this year have stepped up efforts to rid the streets of Paris, the world's most visited city, of thousands of illegal vendors hawking souvenirs.

The Paris police department said it had arrested four people, all Chinese nationals, operating out of a store in the centre of the capital and providing merchandise to about 100 illicit street vendors.

Police also raided a suburban warehouse where they found 300 tonnes of merchandise including the 270 tonnes of mini-Eiffel towers, with a volume of 900 cubic metres, or more than a third the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The objects had been imported from China, it said.

"The goal of the operation is not only to fight against illicit street vendors but also to tackle the supply networks," a police source told AFP.

Four suspects were charged and released on bail. Illegal street vending is punishable in France by up to six months in prison and a 3,750 euro ($5,110) fine.

Paris police detained some 4,000 illegal street vendors between March and September, of which 1,200 were taken into custody, police said.

© 2011 AFP

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