• Launched in February 2020, Operation Shield, coordinated by the Europol agency, aims to fight drug trafficking in Europe.

  • In France, it is Oclaesp, the central Office for combating damage to the environment and public health, which is responsible for combating this traffic.

  • In an interview with

    20 Minutes

    , the head of this office, General Sylvain Noyau, takes stock of this operation.

General Sylvain Noyau heads Oclaesp, the central office for combating damage to the environment and public health.

Depending on the national gendarmerie, the office is involved in Operation Shield.

Launched in February 2020 and coordinated by the Europol agency, it aims to fight against drug trafficking.

“In total, 25 million units of medicine were seized in 2021, as well as 63 million euros.

1,400 investigations have been opened and 540 suspects arrested, ”lists the soldier, who for

20 Minutes

takes stock of this European operation in which 26 countries participate, including 19 members of the European Union.

What is the objective of Operation Shield, launched in February 2020?

This operation, coordinated by Europol, the European police agency, targets drug trafficking.

There are two types of traffic.

First, there are those concerning counterfeit drugs.

There are quite a few in France because medicines are reimbursed there, and there is no reason to buy them.

In Europe, they represent 1% of drugs in circulation, compared to 10% worldwide.

There is also drug trafficking diverted from the legal chain.

They can be resold outside Europe at very high prices.

Cancer drugs, for example, are very expensive, between 5,000 and 15,000 euros per box.

They are therefore sent and offered for sale in countries where they are not reimbursed.

The traffic is organized like drug trafficking.

There are small hands who obtain drugs in pharmacies using falsified prescriptions, semi-wholesalers, wholesalers... Finally, drugs are also of interest to traffickers who resell them to drug users for their effects. psychotropics.

26 countries are participating in this operation, including 19 from the European Union, to which private partners have been associated, such as Amazon, Paypal or the pharmaceutical industries.

Europol centralizes all the information, which allows it to make connections between files, to identify emerging phenomena, new ways of operating or new drugs being trafficked.

Its agents draw up a kind of map of the threat and new phenomena and redistribute the information to the various partner countries.

The agency also has experts in the field who can help investigators from different countries in their investigations.

Two years after its launch, what is the outcome of the operation?

A total of 25 million units of medicine were seized in 2021, as well as 63 million euros.

1,400 investigations were opened and 540 suspects arrested.

Concerning France, 3,335,000 stamps were seized for a value of nearly 5.5 million euros.

There were 405 arrests.

At Oclaesp, we permanently have about twenty files open concerning major drug trafficking.

The cyber aspect is increasingly important in our surveys because it is estimated that 50% of drugs sold on the Internet are counterfeit.

This digitization of traffic involves having the help of specialized cybercrime investigators to find the traces left by the traffickers and identify them.

We also systematically involve financial investigators because it is traffic that brings in a lot of money.

Interpol estimated in 2018 that drug trafficking yields 10 to 20 times more than heroin trafficking!

We try to identify the circuits of the money, the different laundering vectors in order to manage to seize this money.

In March 2020, Olaesp wanted to extend Operation Shield to the health crisis.

Why ?

In this kind of situation, the traffickers are looking for the good vein to try to exploit it.

We feared, for example, the arrival of counterfeit vaccines.

Interpol had launched an alert concerning trafficking in fake vaccines in South America, but here we have not discovered any.

On the other hand, we investigated the trafficking of counterfeit masks, which were not certified.

Another part of Operation Shield was to fight against the trafficking of doping products...

There are two forms of doping: There is high-level doping, which is found in professional sport.

And mass doping, the kind you find in many gyms, with the use of anabolic steroid products.

It is this traffic that is of particular interest to us.

Traffickers buy the products on the Internet, often in powder form.

They mainly come from India, China or Brazil.

When traffickers receive them, they are unprepared.

They have to mix them with other products in boxes or garages transformed into “laboratories” which do not respect any hygiene rules.

This makes it even more dangerous to consume these products, which are already banned from use in view of the risks they represent.


“Guys sell lions like they would sell coke…” These gendarmes who protect the environment and people's health


A vast European operation allows the seizure of 36 million medicines

  • Europe

  • Society

  • Interview

  • Traffic

  • Medication

  • Investigation

  • Gendarmerie

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