Interpol Operation Seizes 20 Million Counterfeit Medicines

Interpol has coordinated a massive operation across 115 countries aimed at organized crime networks selling illegal and counterfeit medicines.

Image from Wikimedia by PöllöThe complex operation involved 236 police, customs, and health agencies, spawning 429 different investigations.  The operation toppled 2,414 websites and 550 online advertisements.

Called Operation Pangea VIII, it is the eighth annual international week of action against pharmaceutical crime.

Between June 9 and 16, police raided addresses across the globe registered with the websites and seized some 50,000 packages. An entire warehouse of illicit pharmaceuticals was discovered in Indonesia; the operation ended with 156 arrests.

The value of goods seized topped US$ 81 million, the largest haul to date.

Last year, Pangea VII resulted in 434 arrests and US$ 32 million worth of seizures.

According to Interpol, police also worked with Google, whose legal director says: “Our involvement in Operation Pangea is yet another way to make it even harder for rogue actors to harm Internet users.”

Other private sector collaborators include Visa, Mastercard, Legitscript, and Paypal.

Alastair Jeffrey of the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said counterfeit medicines can be dangerous. “Criminals involved in the supply of medical products have no interest in your health; it is simply your money they want. Buying medicines from unregulated Internet sites can be risky – you are gambling with your health.”