The enforcement operation Pangea against the illegal trade in medicines on the Internet was organised this year for the ninth time and parties from 103 countries participated in the operation.Dangerous medicines worth more than USD 53 million were sized during the operation.The operation resulted in a total of 393 arrests and 700 criminal investigations, of which no less than 41 cases were directly linked to organised crime.Finnish Customs participated in the operation.
Customs conducted controls of thousands of postal consignments and express freight consignments during the operation. As a result of the operation, 20 criminal investigations into narcotics offences, doping offences and medicine offences were initiated. The largest individual seizure during the investigations was a large quantity of the drug Clonazepam, which is classified as a narcotic. Customs seized a total amount of around 400 tablets of doping products and about 900 tablets of different medicinal products. Furthermore, 1, 386 tablets of different medicinal products, mainly erectile dysfunction pills, were seized through administrative procedure. Illegal and fake medicines arrived in Finland from the USA, Singapore, Poland and Romania among other countries.
Online sales of medicines
Operation Pangea IX was especially directed at the online trading in medicines, which is linked to a great deal of criminal activity. A total amount of 334,000 postal consignments were controlled during the worldwide operation and 170,340 of these consignments were seized. The seized consignments contained a total amount of 12 million different tablets. The operation also led to the suspension of close to 5,000 websites selling illicit pharmaceuticals.
– The illegal medicine trade is a worldwide problem. The buyer frequently doesn’t get the ordered product, but something quite different. Since there are no guaranties of contents or quality, the so called “medicines” that are ordered online often constitute a risk when used. Moreover, the person who orders the medicines may be considered guilty of a crime, says Head of investigation Hannu Sinkkonen at Finnish Customs.
When ordering from an online pharmacy, one must remember that medicines can only be ordered from a legal seller within the EEA and that the medicines must be approved by the authorities of that country. Ordering prescription medicines requires a valid prescription. Ordering medicines from outside the EEA by mail is completely prohibited.
Finnish Customs is a part of the customs system of the European Union. Customs is a state agency supervised by the Ministry of Finance through management by results. Finnish Customs cooperates with the trade community as well as with domestic and foreign authorities. Finnish Customs has approximately 2 200 employees.
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