French police seize 20 tonnes of Eiffel Tower souvenirs

Miniatures of the Eiffel Tower are sold as souvenirs on a street of Paris at the foot of the monument
Image caption The Eiffel Tower, one of Paris’ iconic landmarks, has six million tourists a year

French police have seized 20 tonnes of miniature Eiffel Towers in an operation to dismantle an extensive network selling souvenirs in the capital Paris.

A joint probe with French immigration officials resulted in raids on Chinese wholesalers suspected of importing and supplying the goods to illegal vendors.

Nine people were arrested, media said.

The small metal replicas are sold for as little as five for one euro at tourist hotspots like the Louvre museum and outside the real Eiffel Tower.

More than 1,000 boxes containing the pointy keepsakes were found at two depots and three shops in the Paris region on Monday evening and Tuesday morning, local reports said.

In the past, authorities have struggled to crack down on the counterfeit souvenirs, often illegally sold to tourists by undocumented migrants who run at the sight of police.

A street vendor who sells souvenirs runs away to evade a police patrol near the Eiffel tower in Paris
Image caption Street vendors are often seen playing a cat and mouse game with the authorities
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