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Insufficient postage betrays drug gang

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Insufficient postage betrays drug gang
Photo: APA (BMI)
15:21 CEST+02:00
A gang dealing in counterfeit prescription drugs with in excess of €3 million (US$3.94 million) annual turnover was busted by Austrian investigators after a package arrived in Austria with insufficient postage.

Early on Monday morning in coordinated raids, police in Austria, Hungary and the United Kingdom conducted house searches and made several arrests as a result of the investigation into an alleged case of trans-national organized crime, involving the manufacture and sale of illicit copies of prescription drugs, according to a press conference held by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner of the conservative Austrian People's Party (ÖVP).

In 2012 a package containing counterfeit medicines arrived in Austria from Spain with insufficient postage.  When it was sent back to the return address, a pharmacy in Spain, they denied having sent it.  

Investigators got onto the trail, and discovered that organized criminals from Austria, Hungary and the UK were involved. Most of the suspects appear to be Israeli citizens, according to Mikl-Leitner. Two Austrians were also arrested.

Mikl-Leitner said it was one of the "biggest blows against organized drug crime in Europe".

Bank accounts were frozen with more than €1 million in deposits, and €130,000 in cash was seized, according to investigators.

The products were forged and manufactured in South East Asia, and were allegedly sold as original medicines or generic copies of popular medicines such as Viagra through a variety of fake online pharmacies.

A recent case in Germany saw a university student busted for drug use after his package was delivered to the wrong address.

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