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Police seize fake COVID kits in international trafficking crackdown

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Lyon, France   /   Wed, July 22, 2020   /   07:16 pm
Police seize fake COVID kits in international trafficking crackdown A photo taken on March 31, 2020 shows a COVID-19 rapid test kit at the World Health Laboratories in Bunnik, The Netherlands, after the laboratory received a trial shipment from China, amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 .Police have seized 17,000 fake COVID-19 testing kits discovered in raids against illicit food and drink products across dozens of countries, Interpol said Wednesday. (AFP/Piroschka VAN DE WOUW / ANP)

Police have seized 17,000 fake COVID-19 testing kits discovered in raids against illicit food and drink products across dozens of countries, Interpol said Wednesday.

Officials seized $40 million (34.5 million euros) worth of fake or substandard products in 77 countries, and arrested 407 people in the operation, carried out from December 2019 to June 2020.

The products included contaminated dairy products, meat from illegally slaughtered animals and food products falsely labeled as medicinal cures, said Interpol, based in the southeastern French city of Lyon.

But police also intercepted thousands of fake medical products as countries worldwide rushed to secure supplies while locking down to curtail the coronavirus pandemic.

"As countries around the world continue their efforts to contain COVID-19, the criminal networks distributing these potentially dangerous products show only their determination to make a profit," the agency's secretary general Jurgen Stock said in a statement.

Besides the fake COVID-19 tests, the raids uncovered disinfectants and even a shipment of seafood in South Africa, originating from Asia, that was falsely declared as personal protective equipment.

"Other illicit products recovered included cosmetics, footwear, clothing, handbags, car parts, electronics, tobacco and medicines, worth an estimated $3.1 million," Interpol said.

It was the agency's ninth year of coordinated Opson raids against counterfeit or substandard food and drink, which regularly seize thousands of tons of fake and potentially harmful products.