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

BAGDAD / 26 NOV 2020

A burst of attempted contraband smuggling into Panama’s largest prison complex has challenged governments claims about the success of recent…

COLOMBIA / 16 OCT 2019

In early 2018, Colombia’s Ombudsman's Office sounded the alarm regarding an unprecedented increase in the murders of social leaders nationwide.

KIDNAPPING / 24 MAY 2011

Two mass kidnappings inside prisons in under a month have rattled Venezuela, and offered further evidence that the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…