Millions USD worth illicit medicines seized in global operation

18 June 2015

Press release 

236 enforcement agencies across 115 countries have taken part in Operation Pangea VIII targeting criminal networks behind the sale of fake medicines, resulting in 156 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than USD 81 million worth of potentially dangerous medicines. 

The Operation led to the launch of 429 investigations, the removal of more than 365 adverts for illicit pharmaceuticals via social media platforms and more than 2,414 websites shut down. 

Operation Pangea VIII was coordinated by INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical crime (PFIPC), the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers (HMA WGEO), the pharmaceutical industry and the electronic payments industry.

As well as raids at addresses linked to the illicit pharmaceutical websites, some 149,623 packages were inspected by Customs and regulatory authorities, of which nearly 50,068 were seized during the international week of action (9 – 16 June).

Among the 81 million fake and illicit medicines seized during the operation were cancer medication, infective medication, blood medication, cardiovascular medication, demagogical medication and nutritional products.

Throughout Operation Pangea VIII, INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon served as the central hub for information exchange among the participating countries and agencies. From this base, the WCO coordinated activities between the 80 participating Customs administrations, via the WCO’s secure communication tool CENcomm, and the Pangea team.