Officials of OLAF, AMERIPOL, and Latin American authorities have intercepted thousands of counterfeit healthcare products. For the first time, the law enforcement officials put into action a closer cooperation that was agreed in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The result of the joint action is a massive seizure of illegal healthcare products that were on their way from China to Venezuela. Colombian authorities have thus confiscated more than 50,000 fake goods, based on information provided by the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF.

The confiscated shipment included products that violated the intellectual property rights of renowned brands – including more than 38,000 counterfeit products for relieving nasal congestion and flu symptoms and more than 12,000 fake toothbrushes. The operation involved officials from the EU authority OLAF, the Police Community of the Americas (AMERIPOL), and the Colombian tax and customs authorities (POLFA and DIAN). In the current case, OLAF had identified the suspicious shipment and with the help of AMERIPOL informed the Colombian authorities. The Colombian officials stopped and confiscated the shipment at the port of Cartagena, one of the main container transshipment points in Colombia.

The operation was the first of its kind to put into action a closer cooperation between OLAF and AMERIPOL. This closer partnership is the result of a virtual conference on counterfeit health products and organized crime linked to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in May this year. The authorities planned to intensify the partnership between Europe and America. „Pooling knowledge and resources from all over the world is the only way to fight against this illicit trade and the criminal networks behind them. This is why OLAF has built up over time a solid network of partners in all continents. We are happy to count AMERIPOL, POLFA and DIAN amongst them”, said Ville Itälä, Director-General of OLAF.

In addition to Colombia, further police and customs authorities from several Latin American countries are thus strengthening OLAF’s network, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, and Paraguay.

Sources: OLAF, AMERIPOL