In the largest action of Interpol so far, thousands of fake online pharmacies were closed

A record number of fake online pharmacies were closed as part of the Pangea XIV campaign, Interpol said who led the action in which police, customs and competent health regulatory agencies from 92 countries participated. The result of the action is the closure or removal of 113,020 web links, websites and online stores, which is the largest number since the first Pangea operation performed in 2008.

A man who developed an e-commerce platform on WhatsApp for the sale of illicit drugs was arrested in Venezuela.

In the UK, in addition to the seizure of about three million counterfeit drugs and devices worth more than $ 13 million, authorities removed more than 3,100 advertising links for the illegal sale and supply of unlicensed drugs and closed 43 websites.

Operation Pangea XIV also showed that criminals continue to cash in on the high demand for personal protection and hygiene products created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fake and uncertified test kits for COVID-19 make up more than half of all medical devices seized during the May 18-25 operation. During the operation, 277 people around the world were arrested and potentially dangerous drugs worth more than 23 million dollars were seized.

In Italy, authorities found more than 500,000 fake surgical masks, as well as 35 machines used for production and packaging.

Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said that the pandemic forced people to transfer their lives to the Internet, and that criminals used that to find new buyers.

“While some knowingly bought illicit drugs, thousands of victims inadvertently risked their health and potentially their lives,” he said.

“Internet sales of illegal drugs continue to pose a threat to public safety, which is why operations like Pangea remain important in the fight against this global health plague,” the Interpol secretary general added.

Checks on about 710,000 packages led to the discovery of counterfeit and illegal drugs hidden among legitimate products, including clothing, jewelry, toys, food and children’s products. Thus, in Qatar, customs officers discovered 2,805 painkillers hidden in cans of roasted beans.

With the support of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Safety, the United Nations Office on Medicines, the World Customs Organization’s Container Control Program and Europol, the operation resulted in the seizure of some 9 million medical devices and illegal pharmaceuticals, including hypnotics and sedatives, erectile dysfunction pills, medical devices (Covid test packs, masks, syringes, catheters, surgical devices, etc.), analgesics, anabolic steroids, antiseptics and germicides, anti-cancer drugs, anti-malarial drugs and vitamins.

Untested drugs can be dangerous for several reasons. They may contain the wrong amount of active ingredient (too little, too much or none at all), be out of date or be stored poorly. This means they can be ineffective or contaminated.

Raising public awareness of the potential dangers of buying drugs online was also part of Pange XIV’s operation. Participating member countries conducted social media campaigns, which included video guides on how to safely buy medicines online.

Photo: Interpol

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