Latin America / AMERIPOL

International cooperation stops the counterfeiting of medical supplies

28 September 2020

For the first time in history, Latin America and the European Union have coordinated forces to seize a container of counterfeit products of a well-known brand of drugs that came from Asia and was headed for Venezuela. The operation was carried out through the European Union Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the American Police Community (AMERIPOL), the cooperation project, EL PAcCTO: Support to AMERIPOL, the Colombian National Police (Fiscal and Customs Police) and the Colombian Directorate of National Taxes and Customs (DIAN).

This first collaborative operation constitutes an exemplary case of international coordination in Europe and Latin America’s fight to combat criminal organisations. The operation has shown that international cooperation makes it possible to attack the financial structure and money laundering of these international networks so they can be dismantled anywhere in the world.

The collaboration between the institutions that participated in the operation arises from a videoconference organised by a project financed by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP, EL PAcCTO: Support to AMERIPOL, where the issue of counterfeiting and drug trafficking was discussed within the framework of Covid-19, and a cooperation framework was established between AMERIPOL, OLAF, the Colombian National Police and other Police and customs services in the region.

According to Marcos Alvar, head of the EL PAcCTO project: I support AMERIPOL, “criminals are unscrupulously falsifying vital products for the fight against Covid-19” and therefore “it should be a priority that the Governments take action on the matter to strengthen the AMERIPOL Units and the Fiscal and Customs units in their countries”. For his part, the director general of OLAF, Ville Itälä, says that “this successful operation is another example of how OLAF cooperates with partner countries around the world in the fight against counterfeit products”.

As a result of the conversations between the institutions, contact points have been established using legal tools made available by AMERIPOL, such as the “Inter-Ministers Agreement for Enhanced Police Cooperation against Transnational Organised Crime” (Buenos Aires Agreement), and SIPA (AMERIPOL Police Information and Secure Communications System). This legal system  allows the exchange of strategic and operational information in the fight against counterfeiting crimes and has been ratified by 8 countries from the Police Community of America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.