Interpol: Combating pharmaceutical crime
At least 11% of medical products sold online are counterfeit, and all regions of the world are affected, Interpol has said as it warned consumers to be on alert and not buy medicines on social network pages or mobile devices applications.
Interpol’s Operation Pangea is internationally well-established in efforts to fighting pharmaceutical counterfeits and disrupt the online sale of counterfeit and illicit health products. Just as importantly, Pangea works to raise awareness of the risks associated with buying medicines from unregulated websites, Interpol said!
Since its launch in 2008, the Operation has removed more than 105 million units (pills, ampoules, sachets, bottles and so on) from circulation and made more than 3,000 arrests.
In other words, the combined efforts of police, customs, regulatory bodies and private sector companies have prevented potentially dangerous medicines from reaching unsuspecting consumers, and have dismantled a number of illegal networks behind these crimes.
Findings from the various phases of Operation Pangea show that organized criminal groups are taking increasingly complex measures to avoid detection, such as developing complicated shipping routes and dispatching medicines in smaller parcels.
These changes are partly in reaction to the success of Pangea operations and the more stringent checks that many countries have introduced.
Criminals attempt to conceal illicit medicines among other goods, meaning that authorities need to be on the alert when checking a wide range of genuine shipments. For example, authorities have found counterfeit contraceptive pills hidden inside DVD packages, and illicit sleeping pills inside shipments labeled as clothing, bedding, and food.
The money trail
Organized criminal groups sell illicit medicines online with the sole aim of making money, with no regard for the health or life of unsuspecting customers, and they make huge profits through this illicit trade.
“By following the money trail and confiscating criminal assets, we can dismantle the criminal networks involved and safeguard public health. INTERPOL is committed to providing the analytical and investigative support necessary to the evolving needs of law enforcement.” Paul Stanfield, INTERPOL Director, Organized, and Emerging Crime.
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