31 October 2023

Police seize almost £800,000 worth of illegal prescription tablets

31 October 2023

Potential harm to the public has been reduced with the seizure of almost £800,000 worth of illegal prescription tablets, a senior police officer has said.

The drugs were recovered by police as part of a week-long international police action in Northern Ireland called Operation Pangea.

It is aimed at disrupting the online sale and supply of counterfeit and illicit drugs and health products.

Twelve people were arrested after 23 properties were searched earlier this month.

Drugs seized included Zopliclone, Pregabalin, and Xanax, as well as diazepam, Botox and weight-loss products.

PSNI Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill said over 700,000 illicit tablets were seized, which have an estimated street value of £785,000.

“This action has undoubtedly reduced the inevitable harm to people in our communities,” he said.

“Whilst the figures are a welcome reflection of tremendous collective efforts, they’re also however a worrying sign of the reality, and that’s the demand for and misuse of prescription drugs.”

“The supply of unlicensed or counterfeit pills pose a serious risk to public health.

“The police service will play our part in what is a difficult public health issue by working tirelessly to tackle every aspect of drug supply and misuse across the country.

“It’s a vicious cycle that we need to collectively break.”

Peter May, permanent secretary at the department of health, said people are often unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking unprescribed drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol,

“The medicines recovered were destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland which highlights that none of our communities are immune from the dangers presented by drugs like these,” he said.

“Illegal suppliers have no quality control or legal standards to abide by.

“Those who buy from illegal sources do so without knowing where the tablets originated or what they really contain, so I would urge the public not to be tempted by what look like cut prices or professional looking websites offering websites without prescription.”

Richard Pengelly, permanent secretary at the department of justice, said we can “only imagine” how many lives have been saved by the seizure of the drugs.

“I’d like to commend everyone involved for their dedication and resolve,” he said.

“Each and every successful operation saves lives and disrupts criminal networks.”

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