Sub-standard drugs marketing is one of the most lucrative businesses in the region.
More than $21.8 million worth (420 tonnes) of substandard pharmaceutical and medical products were seized in the “Operation Heera” coordinated by INTERPOL.
The operation was carried out between May 15 and June 17, 2017, and involved about 1150 law enforcement agencies from seven West African countries. These countries include Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
Tim Morris, INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services said the operation is aimed at dismantling illicit drugs factories and supply chains in the region.
“Initiatives such as Operation Heera not only aim to protect the public from potentially unsafe goods, they also help to dismantle illegal networks which are often connected to other forms of serious crime.”
“Through its global network and policing capabilities, INTERPOL’s role is vital in shaping a coordinated response in regional and international operations. Collaboration is key to our collective success,” Mr Morris added.
During the operation, 150 people were arrested and currently placed under investigation. Also, $21.8 million worth of fake drugs (41 million pills and 13,000 cartons of pharmaceutical and medical goods) was seized during the raids.
These seized goods included health supplements, herbal products, analgesics, antibiotics, antimalarial medicine, vitamins, mineral supplements, as well as printing and packaging equipment.