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Crackdown On International Fake Drugs Crime Ring

Monday 1st September 2014

Two men have been arrested in London by police investigating the sale of millions of pounds worth of counterfeit medicines.

The Met says people around the world have paid around twelve million pounds for things like fake slimming and anti-smoking pills from more than 400 websites since March 2012.

Search warrants were executed from 6am this morning at seven addresses in Barnet, Hackney and Watford, one of which is a community centre.

Detectives arrested two men in Barnet and Hackney this morning, believing they form the money-laundering arm of a criminal franchise spanning Europe. It is believed that money was laundered through the bank accounts of a local charity.

Evidence including accounts books, trading documents and computers were recovered from the addresses. Approximately £30,000 cash was also seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

At the same time, their counterparts in Austria were also executing warrants in relation to the supply of the fake medicines.

It is believed that victims came from as far afield as Australia, but most are from within Europe.

Since September 2012, officers from Austria, the UK, Spain and France, working together with Europol, have seized around 300,000 of the illegal pills en route to various countries.

Evidence suggests that the drugs have been made in Asia and dispatched from Austria and other European countries.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Manson, of the MPS Specialist, Organised and Economic Crime Command said: "Todayís operation with our counterparts in Austria and Europol has been about taking down a highly organised crime group who make an incredible amount of money by selling potentially harmful drugs to unsuspecting members of the public, some of whom are in the UK.

"These so-called medicines are peddled on very professional looking websites which feature convincing medical advice, but the people behind them have no medical training. When you buy a product from these websites, you have no idea what concoctions you are actually getting or the conditions in which they have been made. Drugs sold on such websites frequently contain harmful ingredients and have been made in unhygienic conditions.

"The criminals we are targeting prey on people who want medicine quickly, cheaply and discreetly. They donít care if those people live or die as result of taking the drugs. They just care about the money."