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Drug raids Europol net €73 million and arrest 667 in crackdown on illegal medicine

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Medicine seized. Pic Credit: Europol

Medicine seized. Pic Credit: Europol

Medicine seized. Pic Credit: Europol

Medicine and doping substances worth €73 million have been seized and 667 people arrested in a major Europol operation.

Irish authorities, along with 18 EU member states and eight third party countries, coordinated Operation Shield - a global effort to target trafficking of counterfeit medicines and drugs.

The operation took place between March and September of this year, and Europol managed to successfully dismantle 25 criminal groups and made 667 arrests.

They also seized a large amount of anti-cancer drugs, erectile dysfunction medicines, painkillers, and antihistamines, among many other substances.

European Anti-Fraud Office Director General Ville Itälä discussed the operation, adding it was despicable to prey on victims of cancer.

“Trafficking at the expense of cancer patients is not only illegal – it is abhorrent and saddening,” he said,

“The targeted action discovered 58 cases of various irregularities with illicit and substandard oncological medicines, hormonal substances and food supplements.”

“This is not the first time we join forces with Europol and with national authorities and it certainly is not the last – case after case, we see how we all best protect Europeans when we work together.”

Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle also mentioned the dangers of criminals preying on the medical needs of the ill.

“Criminals always look for new opportunities to make a profit and it is always on the back of the citizens,” she said.

“Counterfeit and misused medicines are a growing threat not only because it generates large illegal profits, but because it also represents a serious risk to public health. We can only combat this global danger together.”

Along with seizing a lot of medicine, Europol also shut down 453 websites and 10 hidden laboratories.

They also looked into a variety of fake materials made specifically to combat Covid-19. 33 million medical devices were seized, as well as 70,000 litres of hygiene sanitiser.

According to Europol, Asia remains the main source region for the supply of raw materials for medicines and anabolic substances.

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