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Police raid instant coffee producer

By Chen Xiaoru (Global Times)

13:30, June 19, 2013

Shanghai police raided a business that sold about 7 million yuan ($1.14 million) worth of counterfeit G7 and Old Town brand instant coffee, the largest case this year involving an underground food producer, local media reported Tuesday.

Police have detained 18 suspects in the ongoing case, said Yu Chongwen, a press officer from the police's economic crime investigation division.

Police began investigating the business in May after they came across a suspicious online store that sold instant coffee, according to a report in the Xinmin Evening News. The store has sold a lot of products, but it also suffered from many customer complaints. In its comment section, some customers complained that the coffee tasted strange. Others said it gave them diarrhea.

Investigators purchased samples of the G7 and Old Town brands of instant coffee from the store and determined they were counterfeit.

The business also sold products out of a shop in Jiuting town in Songjiang district. Police followed one of the shop's employees to two factories in the district that had been rented by an elderly woman.

The woman's son, surnamed Zheng, ran the business. Police said he often drove his BMW X6 to buy sugar, creamer and cocoa from wholesale markets in Minhang and Songjiang districts, according to the report.

Police found an entire production line when they raided the factories.

They confiscated 320,000 packages of counterfeit brand instant coffee, according to the report.

Zheng told police that he started the business in 2011 after he found a recipe for instant coffee through an online search engine.

He sold the products to food markets in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing, and even managed to get them on to the shelves in the imported section of a famous local supermarket, the report said.

The police said that Zheng's business thrived because he claimed that he imported the products from overseas. He told the food markets that he was able to import the instant coffee at a low price.

Most of his customers were office workers and students.

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