France investigates crime network smuggling drugs into Egypt

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The French National Gendarmerie announced on Tuesday the tracking down of a crime network purchasing expensive drugs with forged prescriptions at low prices, subsidised by the French National Health Insurance Fund (EHFCN), then smuggling them to Egypt to be resold for large sums.

Colonel Ludovic Learhart told Agence France-Presse that the investigations into this case started more than a year ago, and led to the arrests of 15 people, most of them in France, and one in Italy. In addition to confiscating French medication worth more than €400,000, tens of thousands of euros in cash were seized.

As for the losses incurred by the EHFCN, Learhart explained that the matter is still under review. However, the damage is currently estimated at hundreds of thousands of euros.

The National Gendarmerie officer also explained that this network used to trade in expensive cancer and liver medication, the prices of which range from “€2,000 to €14,000 per pack”.

According to the same source, the investigation into this case started at the end of 2019, as investigators found that the smuggling network was “very organised and hierarchical”.

Learhart indicates that the fraud operation was based on recruiting people with full health coverage via social media. Once those “collectors” joined the network, they are provided with forged prescriptions to obtain expensive drugs at low prices from pharmacies.

The collectors then deliver the goods to a team of “receivers” who transport the medication to various regions of Paris, where a network of “exporters” smuggle it to Egypt.

It is reported that the investigations into this case are still ongoing in cooperation with the European Police Office Europol.

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