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November 30, 2011

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Massive fake drug ring busted

SHANGHAI police said yesterday they had detained 96 suspects in the city's biggest campaign ever against the sale and manufacture of fraudulent medicines.

The counterfeits, more than 70 kinds of drugs including Iressa and Fenbid, were mostly repackaged with overdue pills, police said.

In the crackdown on November 17, police raided 27 gangs in 59 dens across the city and confiscated more than 5.5 million capsules. The total value of the case was estimated at more than 49 million yuan (US$7.7 million), said Yao Jianda, an officer with the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the police.

"Most of the counterfeit drugs were manufactured by people from neighboring Jiangsu and Anhui provinces and were sold there," Yao said. "Shanghai was more like a transit station where they repacked the pills."

Hongkou District police detected in August that a ring was involved in the network of counterfeit medicines in the city. Its members headed by a suspect surnamed Yang usually lurked in residential buildings of different districts to run their business.

"Public health is the main concern, and these counterfeit medicines pose a high risk to the buyers," said Jin Yaqi, director of Hongkou's economic crime investigation team.

The enterprise was mostly facilitated by criminal organizations outside Shanghai, the authorities said. They collected out-of-date medicines at low prices from the black market, while their accomplices were responsible for supplying the counterfeit packaging boxes and trademarks from nearby provinces.

"Once the assembly work was finished, the medicines in disguise would be distributed to other provinces across China," said Jin.

Police officers destroyed seven dens in Putuo, Zhabei and Baoshan districts, where the contraband was produced and stored, and detained the main suspects surnamed Yang, Chen and Sun. More than 12,000 boxes of fake drugs, 26,000 bars of capsules, 130,000 pieces of medicine instruction, over 90,000 packaging boxes and 40 devices for manufacturing fake drugs were confiscated.


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