Tens of thousands of life-threatening drugs, destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland, have been seized as part of a major international crackdown.
The operation, Pangea V, involved 100 countries and was aimed at disrupting the organised crime networks behind the illicit online sale of medicines.
Health Minister Edwin Poots revealed that during its run from September 25-October 2, Pangea V led to illicit drugs being recovered in Northern Ireland including over 55,000 benzodiazepines, erectile dysfunction and pain relief medicines and unidentified psychoactive substances.
“The risk to the public due to illegal or counterfeit medicines cannot be understated. It is an issue I take very seriously and that is why my department is committed to taking all possible steps to stop the supply of illegal medicines over the internet,” he said.
“This issue is not something my department can tackle in isolation. Operation Pangea V has involved the police, the UK Border Force and officers from my department and I thank them for their efforts.”
To coincide with the crackdown, Mr Poots also launched a publicity campaign to increase public awareness of the dangers of internet medicines.
“This campaign shows the stark reality of buying medicines online. The message is clear — it could cost you your life,” he added.
Global results from Operation Pangea V led to 79 arrests and 3.7 million potentially life-threatening medicines seized.