Britain’s border officials said on Tuesday they seized 174,400 sildenafil tablets sourced from India to the UK and 500 gm of cocaine from Nigeria destined for India among other seizures during a month-long operation that also recovered elephant tusks and reptile skin products.
The seizure of sildenafil tablets from India meant to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) is the second such major UK seizure in two years. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had seized 3.5 million such pills worth £10 million in 2019, 96 per cent of them shipped from India.
ED pills are available through pharmacies on a doctor’s prescription after an assessment, but often illegal traders posing as legitimate suppliers sell unlicensed medications for the UK market online, offering tempting prices lower than the real deal, officials said.
Officials said on Tuesday that during the Operation Thunder from September 14 to October 11, Border Force officers at ports and airports made 178 seizures containing thousands of products regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
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The international operation was co-led by the World Customs Organisation and Interpol and involved police, customs, environment, wildlife and forestry agencies from 111 countries. The seizures included 1.3 tonnes of ivory, more than one tonne of Pangolin scales, 1,400 live turtles and 1,800 reptiles.
Chris Philp, minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, said: “The trade in endangered species is driven by organised crime groups and the movement of banned animal products is key to how they operate”.
“This is why Border Force’s specialist officers will continue their vital work at the border to prevent the importation and exportation of endangered animals and plants, as well as working alongside enforcement partners such as the National Wildlife Crime Unit, and police from across the UK to eradicate this ruthless and exploitative trade”.