COLOMBIA NEWS – Colombia was among 111 countries participating in Operation Pangea, a global initiative by Interpol tackling the online sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines, between May 13 and 20, targeting criminal networks behind the sale of fake medicines via illicit online pharmacies. The operation led to 237 arrests worldwide and the seizure of nearly US$36 million dollars worth of potentially dangerous medicines.
In addition to interventions on the ground, which included the identification and dismantlement of three illicit laboratories in Colombia, the operation also targeted the main areas exploited by organized crime in the illegal online medicine trade: rogue domain name registrars, electronic payment systems and delivery services.
In Colombia, 14 were arrested and 11 others in Venezuela. The criminal group crossed the borders betwen Táchira (Venezuela) y Norte de Santander (Colombia), where the drugs were repackaged and relabeled with false Health registry certificates and new expiry dates.
Drugs that were counterfeit drugs were to treat terminal illnesses, cancer, AIDS and epilepsy, as well as nervous system problems, among others, according to the Director Investigación Criminal, general Jorge Enrique Rodríguez.
Around the world, some 9.4 million fake and illicit medicines seized during the operation were slimming pills, cancer medication, erectile dysfunction pills, cough and cold medication, anti-malarial, cholesterol medication and nutritional products.
“The sole focus of the organized crime networks behind the sale of these fake and illicit medicines is to make money, and they do not care about the potentially life-threatening consequences of their actions,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
Following the discovery of the illicit laboratories in Bogota, INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in Colombia issued the first ever INTERPOL Purple Notices – which seek or provide information on modi operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals – in relation to pharmaceutical crime.
NCB Bogota also requested INTERPOL Blue Notices requesting further intelligence regarding suspects in a criminal organization related to pharmaceutical crime in order to trace and locate them.