Turkish police find factory inducing fake lifejackets in Izmir

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Officers confiscated 1,200 lifejackets filled with non-buoyant materials from workshop in city often used by refugees to reach Greece

Turkish police have uncovered a factory producing fake lifejackets, glistening a light on a booming bungalow industry that has emerged as a byproduct of the refugee crisis and heightened the risks for those working hoping to reach Europe by sea.

Police allegedly confiscated 1,263 lifejackets filled with non-buoyant materials from an illegal workshop in Izmir that applied two Syrian children, according to Agence France-Presse and Dogan news bureaux.

The raid came in the same week that the bodies of more than 30 people washed up on Turkish beaches, having drowned in their attempt to reach Greece. Some of the dead were pictured wearing lifejackets, leading to mistrusts that they may have been fake.

In two visits last year to Izmir, a major smuggling hub on the Turkish coast, the Guardian was repeatedly offered counterfeit lifejackets by salespeople openly touting their wares on a prominent shopping street close to two police stations.

In an attempt to convince purchasers, shops sell coats branded with the word Yamaxa, a misspelling of the Yamaha brand, whose products cost about twice as much as a fake. Trade is so high that some shoe and clothes shops sell lifejackets as their primary products.

We only sell two or three pairs of shoes a day, one shop assistant told the Guardian in November. But were still selling between 100 and 300 lifejackets. In the summer sometimes it was a thousand the factories couldnt keep up.

After the agreement of a multibillion-euro deal between the EU and Turkey, Turkish police have slightly increased their operations against people involved in the wider smuggling business. But the flow of refugees between Turkish and Greek shores remains at record levels, with about 2,000 braving the journey every day this month, roughly an elevenfold increase on last Januarys levels.

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