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Operations

At INTERPOL, we promote concrete law enforcement actions in the field with the ultimate aim of protecting the public from sub-standard and dangerous goods.  We offer an 'interventions package' to support all stages of an investigation from gathering intelligence, planning and implementing an operation, through to legal issues for cases that are brought to court.

On-the-ground operations are run on a national and regional level in order to disrupt transnational criminal networks involved in pharmaceutical crime. Directed at both physical outlets and Internet suppliers, these are multi-agency efforts supported by key scientific partners.

Our flagship operations – Storm (Southeast Asia), Mamba (Eastern Africa) and Pangea (targeting the Internet) – continue to go from strength to strength. Successive raids on licit and illicit markets have shown improved results in terms of seizures, arrests, convictions and the closure of illicit websites.

These operations both highlight the success of multidisciplinary enforcement action and confirm the crucial need for continued intervention in this area. 

Operation Pangea

Combating the sale of illegal medicines online

Pangea7

Operation Pangea is an international week of action tackling the online sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines and highlighting the  dangers of buying medicines online. Coordinated by INTERPOL, the annual operation brings together customs, health regulators, national police and the private sector from countries around the world.

Activities target the three principal components used by illegal websites to conduct their trade – the Internet Service Provider (ISP), payment systems and the delivery service.

The operation has gained significant momentum since its launch in 2008. The first phase of the operation brought together 10 countries; a number which has now risen to more than 100.

Pangea VII

Dates: 13-20 May 2014

Participating countries: 113

Participating agencies: 198

Results:

  • 9.6 million fake and illicit medicines seized, including slimming pills, cancer medication, erectile dysfunction pills, cough and cold medication, anti-malarial, cholesterol medication and nutritional products;
  • Seizures worth more than USD 32 million;
  • 434 arrests;
  • 1,249 investigations launched;
  • 22,800 adverts for illicit pharmaceuticals removed from social media platforms;
  • More than 11,800 websites shut down.

 Pangea VII media release (22 May 2014)

Pangea VI

Dates: 18-28 June 2013

Participating countries: 99 in total

Results:

  • 10.1 million illicit and counterfeit pills confiscated;
  • Estimated value: USD 36 million;
  • More than 13,700 websites shut down;
  • Some 534,00 packages inspected by regulators and customs authorities, of which around 41,000 were confiscated;
  • Some 213 individuals are currently under investigation or under arrest for a range of offences, including: illegal internet activity; illegal sale of medicines and supplying unlicensed medicines.

 Pangea VI media release (27 June 2013)

Pangea V

Dates: 25 September – 2 October 2012

Participating countries: 100 in total

Results:

  • 3.75 million illicit and counterfeit pills confiscated;
  • Estimated value: USD 10.5 million;
  • More than 18,000 websites shut down;
  • Some 133,000 packages inspected by regulators and customs authorities, of which around 6,700 were confiscated;
  • Some 80 individuals are currently under investigation or under arrest for a range of offences, including operating a clandestine laboratory producing counterfeit medicines; membership of a criminal group selling illicit medicine online; and operating websites selling illicit medicines.

 Pangea V media release (4 October 2012)

Pangea IV

Dates: 20 – 27 September 2011

Participating countries: 81 in total

Results:

  • 2.4 million illicit and counterfeit pills confiscated;
  • Estimated value: USD 6.3 million;
  • Almost 13,500 websites shut down;
  • Some 45,500 packages inspected by regulators and customs authorities, of which almost 8,000 were seized;
  • Some 55 individuals are currently under investigation or under arrest for a range of offences, including illegally manufacturing, selling and supplying unlicensed or prescription-only medicines.

 Pangea IV media release (29 September 2011)

Pangea III

Dates: 5 – 12 October 2010

Participating countries: (44 in total) Angola, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, China (+ Hong Kong, China), Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, Uruguay and the United States of America.

Results:

  • 87 individuals arrested/under investigation;
  • 102 search warrants executed;
  • More than 2 million pills seized;
  • 297 websites taken down;
  • Estimated value: USD 6.77 million;
  • More than 1,000 police messages exchanged;
  • 350 checks carried out in INTERPOL's databases.

 Pangea III media release (14 October 2010)

Pangea II

Dates: 16-20 November 2009

Participating countries: (25 in total) Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lichtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Results:

  • Identification of more than 1,200 websites engaged in illegal activity including the sale of suspected counterfeit medicines as well as controlled or prescription-only drugs;
  • 237 other websites closely investigated and 153 of them shut down;
  • 17 adverts promoting medicines on auction websites removed;
  • A total of 59 suspects identified. At least 12 of them were arrested and the others investigated for a range of offences related to the illegal sale of pharmaceutical products.

 Pangea II media release (19 November 2009)

Pangea I

Date: 12 November 2008

Participating countries: (10 in total) Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America.

Results:

  • Commercial websites taken down;
  • Postal depots monitored and parcels examined; packages containing suspected counterfeit medicines intercepted;
  • Thousands of suspected counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs and other medicines seized or identified and withdrawn from circulation;
  • Consumer awareness raised via global press coverage.

Pangea I was organized by the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC) and supported by INTERPOL.

 Pangea I media release (13 November 2008)

Operation Pangea V

Temas de interés

Awareness campaign

The videos below highlight the risks of buying medicines online.

Susan's story - fake sleeping medication

Cheryl's story - fake weight loss pills

Chad's story - fake blood pressure pills

John's story - fake erectile dysfunction drugs