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Final counterfeit gang member sentenced

The MHRA has announced that Operation Stormgrand – the UK's largest counterfeit drug operation – has concluded

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) released a statement on July 10 announcing that Operation Stormgrand – the UK's largest counterfeit drug operation – has concluded following sentencing of the seventh and final member of a multi-million pound international counterfeit gang at Kingston Crown Court on July 6, 2009.

Alpesh Patel, 42, was prosecuted for masterminding an industrial scale conspiracy of supplying counterfeit medicines between 2002 and 2005 involving millions of pounds worth of fake Viagra, Cialis and Propecia. He received a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years.

The gang was part of the UK distribution arm of a global ring operating from China, India and Pakistan, extending to the Caribbean and the US.

The London Regional Assets Recovery Team (RART) carried out the financial investigation alongside the MHRA who traced a complex network of individuals, companies and bank accounts that facilitated the movements of these drugs.

More than £1.5m of fake drugs were seized during the London-based operation, resulting in convictions totaling 17.5 years imprisonment and confiscation orders to the sum of £3,074,242.

According to MHRA head of enforcement, Mick Deats: "We will continue to use every power at our disposal to prosecute those engaged in this illicit activity and confiscate the proceeds of their crimes."

"The public are strongly advised to avoid buying medicines online where the risk of being provided with a counterfeit is greatly increased," Mr Deats said.

13th July 2009

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