Home » International operation “SHIELD IV”, 79 websites blocked, 5 arrests, 126 complaints and thousands of medicines seized worth around 9 million euros

International operation “SHIELD IV”, 79 websites blocked, 5 arrests, 126 complaints and thousands of medicines seized worth around 9 million euros

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International operation “SHIELD IV”, 79 websites blocked, 5 arrests, 126 complaints and thousands of medicines seized worth around 9 million euros

I NAS Carabinieri they concluded “SHIELD IV”, acronym for Safe Health Implementation, Enforcement and Legal Development, a vast international operation aimed at protecting health and combating pharmaceutical crime.

The operation developed, between April and November 2023, under the direction of EUROPOL and with the participation, as the only Italian Police Force, of the Carabinieri Health Protection Commandwhich played an organizational, planning and management role, together with the Greek Police, the French OCLAESP and the Spanish Guardia Civil.

28 countries took part in the operation (19 EU member states and 9 third countries), together with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO ) which offered financial support, Frontex, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the World Customs Organization. The joint action addressed the so-called phenomenon in a global manner. pharma crime, understood as counterfeiting, deviation from the legal supply chain, theft and illicit trafficking, through the carrying out of targeted actions regarding doping, medicines, pharmacological active ingredients, including those with narcotic effects, with a focus on new psychoactive substances and food supplements .

Particular attention was paid to the cyber patrolling of the online market, which, as is well known, represents an exponentially growing phenomenon favored by the anonymity of the network and the speculation opportunities offered by the regulatory differentials in the sector legislations of the various countries.

Also this year at Carabinieri Health Protection Commandwas entrusted with the delicate role of co-leader of EUROPOL, a position of primary responsibility which allowed the NAS to participate in the decision-making process by taking a seat in the “control room” (also made up of the Greek Police, the French OCLAESP and the Spanish Guardia Civil) which planned the activities, as well as directed and coordinated the participating countries in the various sectors of intervention as well as action leader position within the EMPACT 3.5 project on drug counterfeiting.

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The contribution provided to the Operation at a national level by the Specialty was significant, in which the Carabinieri NAS they conducted 133 inspections and judicial police activities, with the initiation of 82 judicial and administrative proceedings, which led to the execution of a total of 5 arrests and 126 referrals to the competent judicial authorities. Significant seizures of medicines and doping substances of different types, supplements as well as medical devices and products of various kinds also connected to the treatment of COVID-19: over 130,000 packages and approximately 310,000 units in different pharmaceutical forms, containing active ingredients with various therapeutic indications, mainly attributable to anabolics, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, erectile dysfunction and boasting properties for the treatment of COVID-19. Furthermore, the effective collaboration of the departments employed made it possible to identify and seize 2 clandestine laboratories in which 400 kg were seized. of anabolic substance and active ingredients, 20 kg. of drug precursors and doping substances, 300 kg. of excipients related to the production of anabolics. The commercial value of all seizures reaches the figure of approximately 9 million euros.

At the same time, a daily “web monitoring” activity was carried out on the offer for sale and illicit advertising of medicines online. The contrast to the CD. Pharmaceutical cybercrime remains, in fact, one of the most sensitive aspects, both due to the risk that citizens rely on “do-it-yourself” remedies available online – thus fueling the market for drugs of dubious origin – and due to the proliferation of sites that offer doping substances and narcotics for sale. In this context, the activity of Carabinieri Health Protection Command made it possible, in the reference period alone, to identify and “obscure”, by order of the Ministry of Health, 79 websites, all with servers located abroad.

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The same attention was paid to the health of athletes – professional and amateur – in which 783 athletes were tested (758 on the sidelines of competitions and 25 outside competitions), 79 of which tested positive.

The activity was conducted in collaboration with NADO-ITALIA, the national body responsible for the adoption of anti-doping sports regulations. Finally, the operational opportunity was profitable for promoting institutional cooperation relationships between the NAS and the Customs and Monopolies Agency, in line with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding between the General Command of the Carabinieri and the same Agency.

In this regard, in addition to the numerous checks and seizures conducted jointly in relation to the illicit importation from abroad of medicines without marketing authorization, it is worth mentioning the recent operation which in the month of May 2023, in the province of Salerno, led to the seizure of a clandestine laboratory in which anabolic and doping substances were produced.

Overall, Operation “SHIELD IV”, conducted in the participating countries, made it possible to dismantle 52 criminal groups, seize thousands of medicines, raw materials and doping products of various kinds, for a total of over 13 million units, in various pharmaceutical forms with a commercial value of 64 million euros.

Furthermore, 4 clandestine laboratories were seized. 92 websites were blocked from Internet traffic in Italy. The administrative activity consisted of carrying out 3,935 inspections. The anti-doping activity, however, resulted in approximately 8,000 checks on athletes. At the end of the operations, 296 people were arrested and 988 were referred for various reasons to the national judicial authorities for a total of 1,284.

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