Latin America / AMERIPOL

Operation Link II: fighting against trafficking in medicines

18 August 2021

Criminal organisations have found an opportunity to profit from prescription drug trafficking and counterfeiting during the pandemic. An international alliance involving the Police Community of the Americas (AMERIPOL), the European Union Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), EUROPOL and INTERPOL was set up to tackle these crimes. Operation Link II is backed by EL PAcCTO: Support to AMERIPOL and managed by FIIAPP.

After a year of tackling prescription drug trafficking, the results achieved by Operation Link II were presented at an event attended by over 85 liaison officers at the regional and European levels. This joint action has made it possible to coordinate operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama and the Dominican Republic through control bodies such as customs, health services, police forces and ministries of the interior or equivalent, together with judges and prosecutors.

Operation Link II results:

More than 1,900 control actions have led to the dismantling of 40 criminal structures by the operation. The materials seized include around 5,000 medical instruments, 6.5 million supplies, 19,000 COVID-19 diagnosis tests and over 2.7 million medicines. The value of all the seized medical materials amounts to approximately nine million dollars.

During the event, it was stressed how important it is to continue working along the same lines and to strengthen cooperation in specific actions such as those that attack the criminal assets of these criminal organisation head on. According to Dr. Marleny Montenegro Guerrero, from the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Colombia, the actions carried out by Operation Link II have been very effective in fighting the pandemic and have made it possible to “save lives”.

The coordinator of EL PAcCTO: Support to AMERIPOL highlighted the need to fight against misinformation in relation to COVID-19, where such “unfounded, ill-intentioned fake news” must be attacked in real time and speedily rebutted by the truth. To this end, work is to be carried out to provide AMERIPOL in the near future with its own anti-cybercrime centre, similar to the one at EUROPOL.