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50 people locked in rat-infested shop against their will 'with no way to escape'

50 people locked in rat-infested shop against their will 'with no way to escape'

Dozens of people have had to be rescued from a rat-infested shop in Manchester’s notorious Counterfeit Street.

Some 50 people were held against their will on Great Dulcie Street, in an area of Manchester known for its fake shops.

A man in his 60s was detained – and later released pending further investigations – after he was seen behaving suspiciously while trying to close the shutters on the building.

Police had to use an angle grinder to get into the shop and when they did a group of people came flooding out.

Once inside, they found more people crammed into three other rooms on the second and third floor.

The building was littered with rat urine and faeces – including on shelves and over clothing, underwear and make up that was being sold at the illegal outfit.

A search of the property found excessive amounts of rat urine and faeces littered across the building

The officers detained a man in his 60s and unlocked the doors, when a group of customers ran out

In the basement, officers could not see the floor for boxes and bags full of items which would be sold after being stored in unsanitary conditions.

Detective Superintendent Neil Blackwood said: ‘The state of this building was disgusting and so structurally unsafe. My team found members of the public trapped on the top floor with no means of escape.

‘This isn’t the first time we’ve had to rescue members of the public from these buildings, but I urge people to think twice about entering these shops.

‘With our presence increasing, the shop owners are becoming increasingly nervous and quick to lock the doors, no matter who is inside.

So far, an estimated 20 tonnes of replica clothing, shoes, perfumes and make up have been seized

In the basement, officers could not see the floor for boxes and bags full of items

‘By entering these shops, not only are you putting yourself in danger and at risk of the volatile staff, but you’re funding serious organised crime which is having a devastating impact on the local community.

‘These people do not care for your welfare; they’re simply trying to make some quick cash.’

Greater Manchester Police said: ‘Officers discovered incredibly dangerous infrastructure and signs of exploitative labour, including an underground homemade air conditioning system the staff had made by drilling holes into the pipes on the ceiling.’

An estimated 20 tonnes of replica clothing, shoes, perfumes and make up have been seized from the building.

The fire service deemed the property unsafe and a prohibition notice was served.

The seizure was carried out by officers from GMP’s Operation Vulcan which has waged a relentless war on criminals operating in the Cheetham Hill and Strangeways area since October.

An estimated 33 organised crime groups from across the UK are known to be linked to a large cluster of counterfeit goods shops on Bury New Road.


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