Oct 4, 2012 / 5:50 pm
International organized crime is threatening the health and bank accounts of Canadians who have ordered counterfeit prescriptions online, say border officials and police.
Samples of some of the hundreds of thousands of pills sent by mail but seized by Canada Border Agency Officials were on display in Vancouver Thursday afternoon.
The presentation followed the end of Operation Pangea V, an international investigation co-ordinated by Interpol that spanned 100 countries and ran between Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.
RCMP Sgt. Duncan Pound said Canadian officials inspected almost 4,000 packages, seizing 2,000 of those and confiscation nearly 140,000 fake pills worth about $1 million.
"These products are dangerous," said Heather Ardiel, chief of operations for the border agency at the Vancouver International Mail Centre.
"Taking prescription medications without proper medical advice may pose serious health risks and in some cases even be fatal."
Pound said buying medications online also increases the chance of customers becoming victims of identity theft and credit-card fraud.
He said police have arrested a 58-year-old B.C. man, seized 6,000 counterfeit erectile dysfunction pills and recommended charges to Crown counsel.
Two more files are active and investigators are also examining 4,000 websites, he said.
The fake medications sent by mail have included anti-depressants, sedatives, prescription weight-loss products, heart medications, hormone-replacement therapies, and erectile dysfunction drugs, said Pound.
Ardiel said Asia was the primary source of the medications.
She said consumers can't be sure the medications are genuine and safe because there are no assurances of quality control, as there are when buying through a Canadian pharmacy.
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