INTERPOL crack down: DNP & nutrition products among 12.2m products seized

Among the 393 arrested was a young man who had sold the toxic fat burner DNP on eBay as a weight loss product. © / carlballou

The International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) has seized 12.2 million products as part of its 103-country Operation Pangea IX to crack down on the black health market.

Among the 334,000 packages inspected and 170,340 seized by customs and regulatory authorities during the week of action (30 May – 7 June) were fake and illicit slimming pills, anti-malarial and cholesterol medication, erectile dysfunction pills, hair loss treatments and nutrition products. 

Operation Pangea has seen 393 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than $53m (€46.89m) worth of potentially dangerous medicines. 

DNP arrests 

Among the individuals arrested was a 29-year-old man from California who sold the toxic fat burner 2.4-dinitrophenol (DNP) on eBay as a weight loss product between August 2013 and January 2014. 

“One US customer died in October 2013 as a result of DNP ingestion and in May this year, the seller pleaded guilty to one count of introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce,” INTERPOL said in a statement to press. 

Last year DNP fell into the unfortunate spotlight in Europe after one woman died in the UK and a French man was taken seriously ill after taking the substance bought online, prompting INTERPOL to issue an ‘Orange Notice’ warning about at the time. 

Closing the web

At the inquest of the UK victim, 21-year-old Eloise Aimee Parry, the investigating officer commented that one key difficulty in tackling DNP trade was that authorities could shut down one website only to have a crop of others pop up in an almost identical format just hours later.

Through partnership with private companies like MasterCard and PayPal, the Operation Pangea investigators were able to suspend 4,932 websites selling illicit pharmaceuticals overall. 

Commenting on the operation, INTERPOL executive director of police services Tim Morris said: “Whilst the seizures on the ground prevent these potentially lethal drugs and products from reaching unsuspecting consumers, equally as important is shutting down the websites through which these criminals operate.”

“Raising public awareness about the dangers of buying medicines online is essential if we are to choke off this source of funding for organised crime which is making significant profits at the cost of people’s health and safety.”

Organised crime 

Other high profile cases within Operation Pangea included the seizure of some 65,000 anxiety medication tablets hidden in the back seat of a car and inside the spare wheel in Hungary in a method reminiscent of narcotics smuggling, INTERPOL said. 

An underground laboratory producing fake medication and steroids was also discovered in Austria and Myanmar authorities seized illicit anti-cancer medication and in Singapore, anabolic steroids, sleeping pills, pregnancy test kits and drugs for infertility and weight loss were also recovered. 

This is not the end of the investigation however, a further 700 investigations have now been launched by national authorities globally with about 40 cases directly linked to organised crime.

Participating countries 

Albania, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia,

Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Vietnam and Zambia.

Related News

'Today’s multi-agency operation demonstrates how seriously the NFCU takes the illegal sale of DNP in the UK.' ©iStock

Dangerous weight loss pill dealers busted in Northern Ireland

The FSAI warning will come as the second safety blow in less than a year to the US-based company MusclePharm.

Over double safe niacin content in recalled MusclePharm supplement

Last year, DNP was responsible for five deaths. 47 online vendors have been shut down since 2012. ©

UK man arrested on suspicion of supplying deadly DNP

With great profit comes great responsibility and Amazon must take greater responsibility for the products it allows to be sold on its sites

How responsible is Amazon for the supplements sold on its sites?

Give me commercial casualties over human casualties any day, argues NutraIngredient's Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

How transparent is the EU when it comes to supplement scares?

'Because it’s so serious, we report without fear or favour,' says the FSA

Could and should DNP be a classified substance?

"She weighed the pros and cons and made a bad choice, it cost her her life," says young woman's mother

DNP toxicity caused death of young UK woman: Coroner

Norway stands by prohibition of Arnold Iron Dream Concentrated Night Time Recover product following DNP investigation

DNP Arnold recall still stands, says Norway following legal threats

The police investigation comes amidst DNP fatalities in England and the Republic of Ireland

Irish police seize DNP products

Irish authorities warn consumers not to buy health products online

Irish man dies after taking toxic DNP slimming tablets

“She was literally burning up from within," mother says of 21-year-old daughter's death

UK police warn on DNP slimming tablets after woman’s death

Related Products

See more related products

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.