Black market for illegal medicines in Northern Ireland blitzed by Interpol operation

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The Department of Health has revealed that tens of thousands of illicit drugs were seized in Northern Ireland this month as part of a worldwide operation to disrupt the sale and importation of illegal medicines.

Interpol co-ordinated the effort known as Operation Pangea which involved over 120 countries and took place between September 12 and 19.

The aim was to disrupt the illicit online sale and importation of illegal medicines as well as raising awareness of the significant health risks associated with buying medicines online from illegal websites, or in response to advertisements on social media platforms.

A dedicated operations centre at Interpol’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, served as the central hub for information exchange among the participating countries and agencies.

Co-ordinated activities involving the Department’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG) resulted in the seizure of multiple packages destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland.

Illicit drugs included over 50,000 illegal and unauthorised tablets and injectables including anabolic steroids, human growth hormones, diazepam, pregabalin and tramadol.

Other medicinal products including erectile dysfunction tablets were also detained.

The seized medicines are estimated to be worth over £100,000 on the black market and there are multiple follow-up investigations ongoing with 400 arrests made worldwide.