PANGEA VIII: Over 20 million of illegal and fake drugs seized in 115 countries

From 9 to 16 June 2015, a broad international offensive coordinated by Interpol took place against pharmaceutical crime.

(Photo : Interpol)

A new world-class operation was organized by Interpol between 9 and 16 June 2015, simultaneously in 115 countries[1]. Operation Pangea VIII is part of a series of worldwide operations led each year. It targets the illicit sale of drugs over the Internet.

This year, the operation resulted in 156 arrests and the seizure of 20.7 million potentially dangerous drugs, worth US$81 million. Thousands of packages were intercepted by the 236 agencies involved in the operation: police, customs and health authorities.

Among the seized products, treatments for high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, drugs treating cancer, and dietary supplements were found.

On the occasion of this operation, 2,414 illegal eCommerce sites selling drugs have been closed and 550 advertisements for illicit drugs were suspended.

Results of the operation:

  • In France, 1.07 million tablets and 1.1 tons of falsified medicines (smuggling or counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products) have been seized by customs, primarily erectile dysfunction pills, dietary pills and doping substances. 81 illegal websites selling fake drugs will be subject of legal proceedings or international cooperation to ensure their closure. 16 investigations focusing on by ads selling groups were also brought by the national police on the whole French territory (AMSN).
    The OCLAESP has arrested six individuals who illegally manufactured doping products on national territory. The searches at their homes led to the discovery and seizure of a huge quantity of anabolic steroids (472 bottles, 3,240 tablets), hormones (400 tablets), insulin (20,270 cartridges and syringes), counterfeiting erectile drugs (68 tablets) and pharmaceuticals not yet identified (92,700 bottles and capsules). Via internet, they provided labels with codes and marks, holographic stickers, laboratory equipment … investigations are still ongoing.
  • In the UK, 6.2 million doses of counterfeit and unlicensed drugs worth £15.8 million and 15,000 health devices were seized during the operation (MHRA). Seizures include slimming pills, treatments against erectile dysfunction, drugs against anemia and medicines treating sleep disorders. The UK operation also resulted in the closure of 1,380 websites, 339 of which were local sites.
  • In Spain, the Guardia Civil seized 1,022,352 doses of counterfeit medicines. Among the seized goods: 285,269 treatment against erectile dysfunction, 235,424 doses of drugs to develop muscle mass, 118,627 psychostimulants, 40,206 vitamin supplements, 40 122 analgesics and antibiotics, and also 790 weight loss products, among others.
    This operation led to the arrest of 19 people, while 837 inspections were conducted at various institutions such as herbalists, sports centers, sex shops, pharmacies and health food stores. Thus, a total of 196 administrative offenses and 4 criminal offenses was recorded.
  • In the US, FDA inspectors, in collaboration with other federal agencies have detected and seized illicit medical products and medical devices received by mail to Chicago, Miami and New York. 814 parcels were intercepted and sent to the FDA for monitoring.
    Actions had been taken against more than 1,050 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous drugs. Among the measures, the FDA sent warning letters to the operators of nearly 400 websites offering illegal or unapproved drugs as well as 9 distribution companies selling unapproved medical devices.
  • In Australia, 15 packages were intercepted from Perth mail and air cargo during the operation. From purchases on the Internet, most of the seized counterfeit medicines were pet medications unauthorized in Australia and fake Viagra-type products to treat erectile dysfunction. In all, 80 packages were intercepted in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Kareena Arthy, representative of the veterinary authorities of the country, recalls that “people who buy illegal drugs for their pets can inadvertently cause suffering to them. These drugs have not been scientifically assessed.

About Operation Pangea VIII, the Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services, Tim Morris, said: “Through strong cooperation between law enforcement, health agencies and the Internet and payment companies, Interpol’s Operation Pangea VIII has made significant progress in protecting innocent consumers by shutting down illegitimate online pharmacies and seizing illegal and counterfeit pharmaceutical products. ”

This is exemplary and necessary internationally to fight and maintain optimum health to the world community. Any infringement of a drug or a medical device can seriously endanger public health.

IRACM thanks and congratulates all the national and international actors involved in this operation, which is a great achievement.


The operations Pangea, from 2009 to 2015.


Read the Interpol press release Thousands of illicit online pharmacies shut down in the largest-ever global operation targeting fake medicines.


[1] List of participating countries : Albania, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, DRC, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, China, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, UK, Norway, Paksistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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