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

COLOMBIA / 28 SEP 2021

The recent dismantling of a migrant smuggling ring in Colombia has revealed the routes, corruption networks and modus operandi used…

CARTEL OF THE SUNS / 2 MAY 2022

In October 2021, the Venezuelan Ministry of the Interior issued an ordinary looking statement about an antinarcotics operation in the…

COLOMBIA / 29 MAY 2021

While Latin America is home to the trafficking of all manner of species, several foundations are working to save arguably…

About InSight Crime

WORK WITH US

Open Position: Full Stack WordPress Developer

28 NOV 2022

As Full Stack WordPress Developer You Will: Work collaboratively with other developers and designers to maintain and improve organizational standards.Demonstrate a high level of attention to detail, and implement best…

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…