Coordinated police raids in 116 countries, including Cyprus, have netted 500 tonnes of illicit pharmaceuticals available online, including fake cancer medications, counterfeit pain pills and illegal medical syringes, Interpol has announced.
According to a Cyprus Police statement, during the operation (named Pangea), authorities checked 1,181 drug packages in district post offices and Larnaca airport and conducted raids in four locations.
They arrested four people and seized nine drug packages which had fake labels and/or were illicit or unlicensed.
One of the suspects allegedly run an illegal online pharmacy.
In total 24,436 drugs, were seized by the police. Their total worth is estimated to be over $72,000.
Among them were steroids, erectile dysfunction pills, dietary supplements which contained illegal substances, weight loss pills, pills which contained cannabis products and local anaesthetics.
Police notes that the number of drugs seized in Pangea 2018 was triple the amount of previous years.
Operation Pangea began in 2008. Cyprus started participating in 2011.
859 people were arrested worldwide and $14 million worth of drugs were seized.
“Focusing on delivery services manipulated by organised criminal networks, the operation saw 3,671 web links closed down, including websites, social media pages, and online marketplaces,” Interpol said.
The illegal drug trade on the internet – and in particular on what’s known as the Dark Web – has been growing in recent years, despite authorities shutting down major market sites, as crime gangs have diversified and sought out new clients online.