German customs authorities said Wednesday they had smashed a ring selling millions of counterfeit male potency tablets online from India and other Asian countries after raids in five cities.
The operation involving 60 customs officers, seven prosecutors and 25 tax investigators turned up a stockpile of 46,000 pills destined for mail-order distribution, the customs office in the western city of Essen said.
Seven people were detained in the raids throughout the surrounding Ruhr Valley region carried out in early May after a months-long probe. Four have since been remanded in custody.
"The medication, which requires a prescription, was sold via so-called online pharmacies on the Internet," the customs office said in a statement.
"Hundreds of customers ensured millions in sales which went into various accounts held by the perpetrators abroad."
Authorities froze bank accounts in Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, France and Turkey believed to be used by the ring and confiscated four luxury vehicles and 15,000 euros (21,000 dollars) in cash which will be used toward offsetting a tax bill of 2.5 million euros.
The operation came under an initiative codenamed "Blue" after the colour of Viagra pills entailing cooperation with pharmaceuticals companies to crack down on the illegal online trade in counterfeit medication.
Violations of Germany's pharmaceutical laws can carry prison terms of up to 10 years. Authorities warn that counterfeit medication often fails to meet basic safety and quality standards.
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