October 8, 2012
686 domain names have been seized under the US Government's Operation Bitter Pill, which targeted the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with the Department of Justice, seized 686 web sites last week. Operation Bitter Pill is an initiative under a global attempt to stamp out such sites, the INTERPOL-led Operation Pangea V.
"Organized, sophisticated criminals and rogue pharmacies are unfortunately using the Internet to defraud innocent consumers, to place them in harm's way, to steal their identities and to engage in credit card fraud," said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
People visiting the seized domains will encounter a seizure banner warning of trafficking in counterfeit goods being a federal crime. The 686 domain names seized during Bitter Pill bring the total number of illegal pharmaceutical and counterfeit goods domain names seized in the last two years by HSI to 1,525.
During the recent sting, Homeland Security Investigations undercover agents made purchases of counterfeit preparations including anti-cancer medication, antibiotics, weight loss and food supplements from multiple websites.
Investigations are ongoing as special agents are now connecting shipments and websites with organized criminal networks.
Globally, Pangea has resulted in 79 arrests and the seizure of 3.7 million doses of counterfeit medicines worth an estimated value of $10.5 million. Additionally, approximately 18,000 websites engaged in illegal sale of counterfeit drugs have been taken down.
"These international partnerships are essential in the global fight against the trafficking of counterfeit drugs," said ICE Director John Morton in a related press release. "Instead of taking potentially life-saving medicines, customers are duped into purchasing drugs that are fake or untested and could ultimately do them more harm than good."
The success was part of a wider effort occurring at the same time when 100 countries took part in an international week of action targeting the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines.
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