City of London Police leads crackdown on international importation and distribution of illegal pharmaceutical drugs
The City of London Police’s Serious Organised Crime Team executed a series of warrants at several addresses last week as part of an investigation into the illegal importation and distribution of unregulated pharmaceutical drugs from India into the UK.
Officers from the unit attended six premises in North West London and Slough on Tuesday 13 July 2021, resulting in four arrests, as well as the seizure of approximately 1,200 kilograms of Class C pharmaceutical drugs and £60,000 cash.
The ongoing investigation centres around the distribution of unapproved and counterfeit prescription drugs into the US. The drugs are believed to have been produced in India and then illegally imported into the UK, where they are stored and then bulk-shipped to the US. The international scale of this case has resulted in a joint investigation led by City of London Police with the support of the United States Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Detective Inspector Anne Medlycott, from the City of London Police’s Serious Organised Crime Team, said:
“We believe that these pharmaceutical drugs are being mass-produced in India and imported to the UK for onward international distribution, resulting in significant financial gain for those involved. The drugs are unregulated, meaning that the contents’ purity and ingredients are unknown.
“Our number one priority is public safety. By taking such a large quantity of drugs off the streets, we hope to protect people from the dangers these unapproved pharmaceutical drugs could pose.”
Three storage containers and three residential properties were targeted during the operation, which saw the following arrests on suspicion of conspiracy to supply drugs and money laundering:
- a 48-year-old man from Slough;
- a 28-year-old woman from Brent, London;
- a 31-year-old man from Brent, London; and
- a 31-year-old man from Brent, London.
The arrested suspects have been released under investigation until Friday 6 August 2021.
The shipping container was loaded with boxes of pharmaceutical drugs, which have been found to be a mix of benzodiazepines and opioids used for the treatment of insomnia, severe pain, anxiety and seizures. The drugs were concealed under clothing and large cakes, and mixed in with sundries.
Assistant Commissioner for Criminal Investigations Cathy Hermsen from Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA OCI), said:
“We are pleased to join our law enforcement partners in helping break the international supply chain of illicit prescription drugs and thus protect the public’s health.”
Homeland Security Investigations London Attaché, Eric Feldman, said:
“HSI is proud of our federal and international partnerships. Through constant cooperation and information sharing between our agencies, we were able to keep 1200 kg of illicit, unregulated prescription drugs out of the hands of criminals and off our streets.”