Cyprus took part in the global Interpol operation that in the space of a week seized over three million illicit pharmaceuticals, including covid tests, worth about €10 million.
The global trade in illicit pharmaceuticals is very lucrative activity in which organised crime is involved, police said in a statement on Friday quoting Interpol.
To tackle this phenomenon, Interpol, working with organisations such as EUROPOL, the United Nations, the World Customs Organisation, the World Drug Organisation, launched for the fifteenth time this year the Global Operation PANGEA XV, which took place between 23-30 June, 2022 in 94 countries.
Globally, law enforcement bodies made more than 7,800 seizures of illicit and misbranded medicines and healthcare products, totalling to over 3 million units. Furthermore, they shut down or removed more than 4,000 web links containing adverts for illicit products, opened more than 600 new investigations and issued over 200 search warrants.
Enforcement actions had disrupted the activities of at least 36 organised crime groups.
“Selling counterfeit or illicit medicines online may seem like a low-level offence, but the consequences for victims are potentially life-threatening,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock, explaining that law enforcement agencies had to work together across borders to effectively protect consumers.
During the operation in Cyprus, police said 462 pharmaceutical preparations in the form of pills, sprays and gels and 123 preparations of food supplements which are not licensed for import and marketing for sale in the Republic were seized and several packages were checked at parcel sorting points.
Four websites offering illegal pharmaceutical preparations for online sale were identified and the competent authorities were alerted to the cases, police added.
As part of the operation, duty-free tobacco products, 810 canisters of nitrogen dioxide (laughing gas) and electronic cigarettes that were not adequately marked were also seized.
The authorities warned the public to be particularly careful when purchasing and using medicines or other preparations offered for sale on the internet or obtained in any way without a prescription and the advice of a doctor.
“The use of such preparations can have serious effects on the human body with unforeseen consequences,” police said.
The operation in Cyprus was carried out with the participation of the Cyprus Police, which was responsible for the coordination, the pharmaceutical services, the customs department, the postal services department, the health services department, the medical equipment unit, the industry and technology department, the state lab and the veterinary services.