Interpol Operation in Malaysia

A package search is conducted in Malaysia, where several look for illegal drugs entering the country.

LYON, France (3TV/CBS 5) -- Thousands of illegal pharmacies were shut down in an international operation this summer. Interpol, an international policing agency that works with member nations, made significant progress against the sale of illicit drugs.

Under "Operation Pangea XIV," more than 113,000 links to illegal websites and online marketplaces were closed down or removed in June. Officials say it is the highest number since the program first started in 2008.

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Scouring for drugs

Interpol says most of the operation involved  police, customs, and health-regulatory agencies working together. Many agencies search across the web — and deep web — looking for illegal drugs, prescription narcotics, or other fake pills.

About 710,000 packages were checked by participating countries in the latest crackdown, with some of those discoveries leading to arrests. UK authorities found about 3 million fake medicines and devices worth more than $13 million.

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A fake COVID-19 testing kit seized in Thailand

A fake COVID-19 testing kit seized in Thailand

Earlier this year, Interpol reported back that fake at-home coronavirus tests were among the most discovered and seized medical products since the pandemic began. In December, a global alert was issued to all 194 member countries warning that an organized crime network was growing amid the pandemic. Many criminals were advertising, selling, and administering fake COVID-19 vaccines.

Operation Pangea in Italy (2021)

Authorities seized fake medical equipment and products in Italy in May.

“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains," Interpol's Secretary-General wrote.

Italian authorities recovered more than 500,000 fake surgical masks and 35 machines in May. More than 277 arrests were reported worldwide in that one week alone.

Most of the items seized during these operations are products masquerading as erectile-dysfunction pills, over-the-counter painkillers, antiseptics and germicides, anti-cancer and anti-malarials, or even vitamins. 

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