In the largest action of its kind, INTERPOL’s Operation Pangea X targeting the illicit online pharmacies and sale of medicines and medical devices, saw some 400 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than USD 51 million worth of potentially dangerous medicines.
Europol supported INTERPOL’s Operation Pangea with two analysts performing checks on entities against Europol’s databases. In addition, a specialist and an analyst with a mobile office and a device for forensic support were sent by Europol to Budapest, Hungary, to conduct checks on the spot.
Overall, involving 197 police, customs and health regulatory authorities from a record 123 countries, Operation Pangea X led to a record number of 25 million illicit and counterfeit medicines seized worldwide.
The action resulted in the launch of 1058 investigations, 3584 websites taken offline and the suspension of more than 3000 online adverts for illicit pharmaceuticals.
Among the fake and illicit medicines seized during the international week of action (12 – 19 September) were dietary supplements, pain reduction pills, epilepsy medication, erectile dysfunction pills, anti-psychotic medication and nutritional products.
In addition to medicines, Operation Pangea X also focused on the sale of illicit medical devices, such as dental devices and implants, condoms, syringes, medical testing strips and surgical equipment. Illicit devices worth an estimated USD 500 000 were recovered.
Starting with just eight countries in 2008, Operation Pangea has grown exponentially during the past 10 years, with police, customs and drug regulatory authorities from 123 countries taking part in 2017.
The main trend identified during the decade of Pangea operations is the continuous growth of unauthorised and unregulated online pharmacies, which capitalise on increasing consumer demand worldwide to advertise and sell illicit or counterfeit medicines.