Colombian authorities have arrested 18 suspects in connection with an international trafficking ring selling expired medication from Venezuela and Ecuador.
"They were expired, decomposed and discontinued products from Venezuela and Ecuador which crossed the border and were received by a group responsible for packing and camouflaging them in parcels that were transported on public service buses until Medellin," said the National Institute for the Surveillance of Drugs and Foods (INVIMA), the organization behind the arrest.
National police made a series of arrests in Medellin and Ipiales and seized the tampered medication along with approximately US$71,000 of illicit profits.
Investigators discovered almost two tons of medication, including antibiotics, contraceptives and baby formula, along with antihypertensive, pneumatic and cancer medication.
The suspects, all from Ecuador and Venezuela, had altered the packaging, and erased expiration dates and manufacturing lot numbers, names and characteristics, marketing them as new and authentic treatments.
Sales were conducted over the phone, with delivery included, and products were priced at the usual rate to avoid suspicion.
"The members of this organization put Colombian health at risk, sold the medicines to drug stores and distributors responsible for putting them in dispensaries and health centers," the Prosecutor's Office said.
No health complications have so far been reported in connection to the medicines, but the suspects now face charges of commercial exploitation, usurpation of intellectual rights, conspiracy, and drug trafficking.