Mozambique, Australia and Qatar: INTERPOL’s Operation Pangea XVI- Pharmaceuticals, Red Notices, and sex (Part 2 of 3) | Estlund Law, P.A.

The last post in this series described INTERPOL’s Operation Pangea and how law enforcement from varying countries use INTERPOL’s tools to share information and do cross-border investigations.  Today’s post will discuss the operation’s results along with risk of corruption within the operation. 

Operational Results

INTERPOL’s findings during this operation include the following: 

  • 72 arrests worldwide
  • USD 7 million in potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals seized 
  • 325 new investigations opened 
  • The closure of more than 1,300 criminal websites

Global Impact: 

  • Mozambique: authorities seized 9,000 bottles of suspected counterfeit cough syrups after discovering contradictions between product labels and official documents.
  •  Australia: authorities seized some 11,000 COVID-19 irregular test kits, demonstrating continued criminal exploitation of the pandemic.
  • Qatar: customs officers seized 2,500 prescription painkillers hidden in cereal boxes, from a passenger flying in from India.
  • Peru and Ecuador: Some 13,000 counterfeit and/or expired pain medicines were confiscated during searches at a bus depot.

Effect on Red Notice Subjects

Red Notice subjects could be deeply affected by the corrupt member countries involved in Operation Pangea. As seen in the bulleted list above, notable contributors to this operation include Mozambique, Australia, Qatar, Peru, and Ecuador. Mozambique maintains a rank of 26 on the corruption scale, Australia maintains a 13, Qatar maintains 40, and Peru and Ecuador maintain 101. While there is always risk of officials engaging in illegal action, certain countries involved in this operation come with increased risk. 

The risk of corruption is exemplified in the reported 30% of public servants having paid a bribe in Peru in the last 12 months.  Additionally, Peru’s current president’s career has been described as, “A dark mess of severe human rights violations,” Peru serves as an example of a corrupt country that poses a danger to Red Notice subjects, as the authorities are more willing to participate in illegal activities. 

The trend of Erectile Dysfunction Medications: INTERPOL’s role in the sex industry

Despite the range of substances confiscated during Operation Pangea, INTERPOL has confirmed that erectile dysfunction medications continue to be the most seized drug globally, accounting for 22 percent of seizures during the operation. Psychotherapeutic agents such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medicines, and stimulants were a close second at 19 percent, followed by sex hormones and gastrointestinal medicines at 12 percent respectively.

Although this statistic may be surprising, it is not new for INTERPOL. As of 2019, INTERPOL stated, “The highest number of seizures under Pangea were of fake erectile dysfunction medicines.” and again in 2022 INTERPOL wrote, “Counterfeit or unauthorized erectile dysfunction medicines comprised roughly 40 percent of all products seized.” 

As reported in a Forbes article, “Interpol did not immediately respond to a request from Forbes as to why erectile dysfunction drugs make up the largest seizure in its operations. According to a study from Tulane University School of Medicine, one potential reason for the booming market for counterfeit erectile dysfunction drugs has to do with patients who are too embarrassed to seek treatment, or who are looking for cheaper alternatives to drugs such as Viagra.”

The next and final installment in this series will delve into the deceptive tactics used to lure consumers into purchasing illicit substances.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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