Counterfeit Botox, Viagra and prescription pain and anxiety medications were among 700,000+ pills and medicines seized by the PSNI in the latest phase of the international Operation Pangea.The unlicensed meds were destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland, and have an estimated street value of £785,000.
12 people were arrested after 23 properties were searched earlier this month in the operation, which is aimed at disrupting the online sale and supply of counterfeit and illicit drugs and health products.
Police displayed around one third of the haul in Stormont's Long Gallery on Tuesday in a joint press conference with the Department of Justice and Department of Health.
Stacks of weight-loss injections and fillers were piled high on the tables of drugs, along with Pregabolin, Diazepam, and knock-off Xanex.
"This action has undoubtedly reduced the inevitable harm to people in our communities," said Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill.
"Whilst the figures are a welcome reflection of tremendous collective efforts, they're also however a worrying sign of the reality, and that's the demand for and misuse of prescription drugs.
"The supply of unlicensed or counterfeit pills pose a serious risk to publichealth.
"The police service will play our part in what is a difficult public health issue by working tirelessly to tackle every aspect of drug supply and misuse across the country.
"It's a vicious cycle that we need to collectively break."
Peter May, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, said people are often unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking un-prescribed drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol.
"The medicines recovered were destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland which highlights that none of our communities are immune from the dangers presented by drugs like these," he said.
"Illegal suppliers have no quality control or legal standards to abide by.
"Those who buy from illegal sources do so without knowing where the tablets originated or what they really contain, so I would urge the public not to be tempted by what look like cut prices or professional looking websites offering websites without prescription."
Richard Pengelly, permanent secretary at the Department of Justice, said we can "only imagine" how many lives have been saved by the seizure of the drugs.
“The Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) drugs sub group members have worked in partnership to remove illicit medicines from reaching addresses in Northern Ireland.
The drugs that have been removed from circulation means our communities are safer places today.
“Making profit out of misery will not go unchallenged.
"Every successful operation has the potential to save lives. I very much welcome the outcome of this year’s Operation Pangea XVI and fully support all the partners in their efforts to tackle crime, to seize goods and criminal assets and protect public health.”
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