Operation Biyela 2: Record interceptions of products that are a threat to consumer health and safety 

A joint press conference with the World Customs Organization (WCO) was held on September 22, 2014, in Paris, to announce the results of operation BIYELA 2.


BIYELA 2 at a glance

  • Dates
    From 21 May to 4 June 2014.
    3 days of training in Lome, in Togo, followed by 10 days of customs interception from May 24 to June 4.
  • 14 countries
    South, West and East of Africa, or 14 countries: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo,  Gabon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo.
  •  15 sea ports
    Abidjan, Cotonou, Dakar, Dar es Salam, Douala, Durban, Cape Town, Libreville, Lome, Luanda, Maputo, Matadi, Mombasa, Tema, Walvis Bay.
  • Intervention
    Among the 118 million articles intercepted, 113,719,528 were illicit and/or counterfeit drugs, or 95% of the articles. Most of the interceptions occurred in Benin, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
    Estimated value of the interception: up to USD56 million[1].
  • Origin
    Most of intercepted shipments came from India (90%) or China (5%).

[1] Approximate value of USD0.5/medicine.


113 million illicit pharmaceutical products that are potentially dangerous for health

The health and safety of Africans are seriously threatened by the scourge of illicit and/or counterfeit pharmaceutical products, many of which are dangerous. Faced with a rise in this extremely worrisome illegal trafficking, customs authorities are on the front lines when it comes to stopping illegal imports and protecting consumers.

The International Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) and the World Customs Organization (WCO) decided to join forces for the third successive year in order to conduct a sweeping large scale customs operation, called « operation Biyela 2 », to fight the trafficking of products that are a threat to the health and safety of consumers in 14 Sub-Saharan, West and East African nations.

Operation Biyela 2 mobilized 14 African customs organizations[1] for a ten day period (26 May to 4 June 2014), with the aim of carrying out simultaneous inspections of shipments of goods that could potentially contain illicit and/or counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs that pose a threat to the health of local populations.

Among 18 million articles intercepted, 113,719,528 were illegal drugs and/or counterfeit, or 95% of the articles. The majority of these products were intercepted in Benin, Tanzania, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Most of the intercepted shipments came from either China or India.

A majority of the pharmaceutical drugs seized by African customs authorities are related to primary care (32% analgesics, 17% anti-inflammatory drugs, 5% antibiotics), as well as drug therapy (17% of the intercepted products were anti-tuberculosis drugs).

The operation also resulted in, for the first time, significant detection of illicit veterinary products: more than one million intravenous drugs in Benin, more than one million tablets and vials in Mozambique, and more than 100,000 intravenous drugs in Togo.

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Results of the three-year collaboration between IRACM and WCO

– See press release « Operation Biyela 2: Third series of record interceptions of products that are a threat to consumer health and safety. IRACM and the WCO are proactively fighting against illicit and/or counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs in Africa ».


[1] Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo.