Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, supported an international operation targeting the illicit trafficking of misused and counterfeit medicines.
Nearly 36 million units of medicines seized (among which pseudoephedrine, anti-cancer drugs, antihistamines, anxiolytics, erectile dysfunction medicines, hormone and metabolic regulators, narcotics, painkillers, antioestrogens, antivirals, hypnotics, and doping substances).
Europol told International Insider that during the full period of the operation, the organisation provided operational analytical and coordination support the law enforcement authorities involved in the actions. Europol also set-up a coordination centre at its headquarters during joint action week (from 15th to 18th of October).
The operation, led by the French National Gendarmerie (OCLAESP) and the Finnish Customs (Tulli), saw a cooperation of law enforcement authorities from eleven EU Member States and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Carried out between July and October 2019, the operation disrupted twelve organised criminal groups and brought to the arrest of 165 suspects in Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Nearly €1.5 million of assets were recovered and €7.9 million seized.
Europol expressed its concern for the growing trend of trafficking in the EU of oncologic medicines stolen from hospitals.
The agency confirmed that Asia remains the main source for both medicines and doping products.
Medicines are obtained illegally with both forged or stolen medical prescriptions and then resold to criminal groups or individuals directly.
Counterfeited medicines are also illegally made and packed in underground laboratories often in EU countries.