HomeNewsBriefFake Medicine Bust Exposes Lucrative Venezuela-Colombia Trade
BRIEF

Fake Medicine Bust Exposes Lucrative Venezuela-Colombia Trade

COLOMBIA / 23 MAY 2014 BY MARGUERITE CAWLEY EN

Authorities in Colombia and Venezuela have dismantled a group dedicated to the production and trafficking of costly false medicines between the two countries, in a case highlighting both the dangers posed by this trade and the lucrative nature of such schemes.

Over the course of the operation, which has involved various raids, a total of 25 people have been arrested -- 14 in Colombia and 11 in Venezuela. Police also seized 90,000 pills, 21,629 packages and over 10,000 labels, reported EFE.

According to the director of Colombia's criminal investigations police (DIJIN), General Jorge Enrique Rodriguez, the band operated by altering already expired medicines, and also put fake batch numbers on medicines they fabricated. Among the falsified pharmaceuticals were medicines used to treat serious illnesses such as cancer, AIDS and epilepsy.

The medicines being altered, said investigators, were provided by corrupt high-level health center personnel in various Venezuelan cities.

After manufacturing the medicines in the state of Tachira, the group would cross over into Colombia's Norte de Santander department to pack them and give them false labels and expiration dates. They then distributed them in Venezuela and in major Colombian cities, including capital Bogota.

InSight Crime Analysis

The counterfeit medicine trade in Colombia -- which includes expired, falsely labeled and fake drugs -- is immense. In 2012 and the first half of 2013, authorities seized some five million units of such pharmaceuticals, which they say can be sold with profit margins of up to 1,000 percent.

Venezuela is one of the primary suppliers of these illegal medicines in Colombia. This is likely facilitated by the long established contraband routes running between the two countries, with other products smuggled across the border including booze, cigarettes and perishable food items.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Counterfeit

Peru and Ecuador are also important sources of counterfeit medicines sold in Colombia, as highlighted by a 2012 Caracol special.

According to the World Health Organization, 10 percent of medicines sold commercially in the world are false. In Latin America, the proportion is thought to be around 30 percent. Paraguay is another country that has battled with the trade, particularly in the smuggling hub of the Triple Frontier region, while Costa Rica saw a spike in counterfeit medicines trafficked in from Nicaragua last year.

The trade can have devastating health effects on users -- according to international police body Interpol, one million people in the world die each year as a result of using counterfeit drugs.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 11 FEB 2015

Notorious Venezuela drug trafficker Walid Makled has been sentenced to 14 years in prison but absolved of several crimes in…

COLOMBIA / 19 JUL 2012

Colombia's Constitutional Court has approved a government bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cocaine and marijuana, reversing…

COCA / 12 JUL 2016

The United Nations' latest estimate of coca cultivation in Colombia is again substantially lower than US government estimates, but both…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.