Bilateral multi-agency enforcement operation identifies illicit and illegal medical products shipped using the international mail system
Geetanjali Minhas | July 7, 2023 | Mumbai
Over 500 shipments of illicit, and potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs, combination medical devices, and synthetic drug precursors were stopped from reaching American consumers in a bilateral multi-agency operation between the US and India.
Operation Broader Sword, a special bilateral multi-agency enforcement operation, was carried out in June 2023 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), in collaboration with the Government of India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) targeting illicit pharmaceuticals, devices, or precursor chemicals shipped using the international mail system. It targeted packages entering U.S. from India through the New York (JFK) and Chicago (ORD) International Mail Facilities (IMFs) during June 12-23.
More than 1,500 shipments originating in India were examined by the investigators during the operation. Action was taken on approximately 500 products, including illicit and illegal medications intended to treat and or mitigate serious diseases. Many shipments were determined to have included opioid and other controlled substance drug products.
During the operation, controlled delivery of a shipment of suspected products was conducted by HIS special agents leading to the arrest of an Indian national for illegal import of illicit pharmaceuticals including opioids and other controlled substances.
“U.S. law enforcement and regulatory agencies already enjoy a strong working relationship with Indian counterparts under the bilateral Counternarcotics Working Group and now have expanded that cooperation to work closely under Operation Broader Sword,” Mark Fredrick, DEA Country Attaché, said in a statement released here.
“Initiatives like Operation Broader Sword protect people, both in the U.S. and India, helping India identify traffickers who either operate or seek to expand into India and also helping Indian law enforcement strengthen protections against flows of illicit drugs that may harm Indian citizens,” added Fredrick.
Bilateral, multi-agency efforts like Operation Broader Sword are aimed not only to interdict illegal and potentially harmful products from reaching consumers in the U.S., but also provide information on shipping patterns and parties of interest that warrant additional enforcement actions.
In the process U.S. and Indian law enforcement officials gain an understanding of international criminal networks which can be leveraged to further protect citizens of both countries.
Operation Broader Sword has been built upon the success of Operation Broadsword which was conducted in 2020 at Chicago, IMF. It targeted mail parcels containing illicit medical products from India and had the participation of Government of India officials. It stopped shipments of illicit, and potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs and combination medical devices from reaching consumers and provided leads on individuals (points of origin) that facilitated additional law enforcement follow up in India and the U.S.
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