On April 8, 2015, by order of Judge Gabriel Vitali of Lomas de Zamora in Buenos Aires, an estimated 7,800 vending stands forming part of the La Salada black market were destroyed.
More than 150 police officers accompanied by bulldozers began demolition of the stands installed on a section of the Riachuelo riverbank, which was sanctioned for environmental restoration in 2012. The stands, located outdoors next to the markets of La Salada, and allegedly controlled by gangs, obstructed access to the main roadways in the area and nearby homes.
La Salada is South America’s largest black market, as reported by the 2014 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. There are three enclosed markets: Ocean, Urkupiña and Punta Mogotes. Some of the products sold in the markets are stolen or counterfeit goods, which harm legitimate business. The marketplace grosses over 2.4 billion Argentine pesos per month (270 million USD).
Judge Vitali signed the order authorizing removal of the stands on March 16 to give time for security forces to organize the bulldozers needed to remove them. The vendors were given notice of the planned demolition and were therefore potentially able to remove all of their merchandise before morning.
This decision may present an opportunity for future actions against illegal marketplaces infringing upon intellectual property rights. Although La Salada still stands and openly sells counterfeits to consumers, this raid is an important step towards creating a history of successful intervention against the sale of counterfeit goods.