Pangea XIV is the name of this operation carried out by Interpol with the police and customs of 92 countries around the world. After sifting through tens of thousands of websites, they closed 113,020 of them. These were bogus pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs and medical products.
It’s about “the highest number since the first Pangea operation in 2008”, Interpol announces, detailing the results of this investigation which has closed thousands of websites and checked around 710,000 parcels in the 92 participating countries. 113,020 websites have been closed: in total, welcomes the agency, they have entered “some nine million illicit medical devices and pharmaceuticals”.
If the action has taken place now, it has made it possible to highlight a series of issues raised by the pandemic: between health crisis, temporary closures of physical businesses, even illicit activities have wanted to ride the wave of online commerce. “It didn’t take long for crime to target new ‘customers'”, said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, emphasizing the victims of this illegal trade, namely consumers who are sometimes unaware of the scam to which they are subject.
In the UK, for example, three million fake drugs and medical devices were seized, for a total value of $ 13 million. And that’s without counting the 3,100 advertising links that were removed because they referred to illegal sales of drugs or unauthorized drugs.
Pharmaceutical crime threatens the security and health of all of us, especially right now that the demand for medical products is so high.
This is why we fight it.
— INTERPOL Illicit Goods and Global Health Programme (@INTERPOL_TIGC) June 8, 2021
Among the property seized were several very different types of drugs: from fake vitamins or pain relievers to anabolic steroids or sedative or antiseptic drugs. Even cancer drugs have been sequestered.
After the operation, Interpol would like to alert the public to the dangers associated with these drugs: between modified expiration dates, uncertainty about storage methods or even bad mixing of active substances (in the event of proportions not respected), the authorities recognize that this traffic is still very intense and that an awareness effort must be made so that buyers are aware.
During the operation, Interpol, the police and customs mobilized as well as the health control authorities noticed the extent to which products linked to the health crisis have experienced a real boom. They actually found that “more than half of the medical devices seized during the operation were false or unauthorized covid tests”.
The operation, carried out between May 18 and 25, was accompanied by 277 arrests around the world and a seizure of these products worth more than $ 23 million. For example, the Italian authorities were able to seize more than 500,000 non-compliant surgical masks and 35 machines used to produce and package them.
“As crime continues to escalate during the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities must remain vigilant to dismantle the criminal networks involved in the proliferation of illegal pharmaceuticals, especially on online platforms “, said the head of the Interpol National Central Bureau in the Philippines, Allan. C. Guisihan.
In some cases, the drugs were well hidden: many of them were found in jewelry, toys, clothes, children’s products or… in cans.
Perfect illustration in Qatar, where the authorities discovered 2805 tablets in cans of beans.