Operation MIRAGE

20 September 2018

From 10 to 19 September 2018, the WCO organized an IPR, Health and Safety Operation on the African mainland.  The Operation was conducted under the codename MIRAGE, referring to the deception and delusion inherent to substandard and counterfeit medicines.

A workshop, organized in close cooperation with Benin Customs in Cotonou from 5 to 7 September 2018, preceded the Operation. Sixteen countries from West, East and Southern Africa participated in the workshop, namely fourteen countries with major seaports on the African mainland and two landlocked countries, which joined on their own initiative.

The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE) and INTERPOL took part in the workshop.  Their participation led to greater understanding of the roles of the different authorities and the importance of improving cooperation.

The Operation was focused on counterfeit and illicit medicines; however, other goods that could jeopardize the health and safety of African citizens were also targeted.

In the majority of the participating countries, the National Focal Points from the WHO as well as the veterinary authorities assisted Customs officers to inspect pharmaceutical consignments during the Operation. The relevant Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILO), Southern African Customs Union (SACU) representative and local Container Control Programme (CCP) teams all supported the Operation. After just one week of the Operation, millions of illicit medicines and thousands of counterfeit items had already been intercepted and new modus operandi discovered.

The final results of the Operation will be presented during the Counterfeiting and Piracy (CAP) Group meeting to be held on 6 and 7 December 2018 at WCO headquarters.