Coincidence or Crisis?
Prescription Medicine Counterfeiting

Edited by Peter J. Pitts
December 2006
Stockholm Network
Distributed By Coronet Books
ISBN: 0954766385
ISBN 13: 9780954766382     
121 pages, 5 x 7 3/4"
$28.50  Paper Original

This book is both important and timely. There is a steady – although still unmeasured – growth in all types of international organised crime. But whereas fake perfumes or fake jeans or pirated music may turn out to be a disappointment, fake pharmaceutical products are infinitely more serious – because they may damage the health of the consumer.

Europeans are failing to counter all these organised crimes. The basic problem is that the gangs cross open borders inside Europe with impunity. But all our police forces are national, and therefore cannot cross frontiers. What is ‘hot’ in one state seems of less importance next door. There are no statistics to measure the growth of crime across Europe – because each of the 25 member states of the European Union collects its own figures in its own way. But my feeling is that crime is growing on all fronts because it is not being fought. There is no European police force to fight the international gangs on their own terms. Both Interpol and Europol are located in Europe. Interpol in Lyon is a club, financed by policemen around the world, which acts as a worldwide information centre, and holds valuable databases. Europol in The Hague is the European Union’s intelligence-gathering centre, which also holds databases, and is financed by the 25 national governments of the EU.

But neither of the two organisations’ staff have operational or arrest powers. The criminal gangs are based, mostly, in eastern Europe or farther east. Often made up of ethnic families, they contain bright people who cannot find legitimate employment in their own country. They operate as tight, highly efficient but ruthless and cruel businesses which are quick to spot market opportunities. They traffic heroin from Afghanistan, cocaine from Colombia and ecstasy from Europe. They traffic illegal immigrants from Asia and Africa, women for prostitution, and children for paedophilia. They phish for people’s identities over the Internet with the purpose of stealing their money.

They counterfeit goods and currency. They violently steal luxury motor cars and, of course, they fake and traffic pharmaceuticals. Why are European governments ineffective in fighting organised international crime? After all, the Home Office in London recently said that ‘every kilo of heroin imported into the UK causes over 200 street crimes’. They know it would pay them handsome dividends. The reason for their failure is nationalism, and their lack of trust of other Europeans. Each national government and parliament thinks it knows best. Each is reluctant to share information with others for the greater European good. When they share information, they are unwilling to authenticate it by revealing their sources.

Meanwhile, the gangs cooperate internationally and remain unchallenged for too long. Europe needs to create its own cross-border law enforcement agency with operational powers. The USA has its FBI. Europe has nothing. The gutter press would complain that ‘foreigners in jackboots are now arresting our citizens at dead of night. Didn’t we fight the Second World War to prevent this?’ Instead of being afraid of such criticism, Europe’s national leaders should look forward and provide leadership in solving our new problems, such as organised crime. If they continue not to do so, the gangs will prosper and grow, and eat away at the fabric of our society. The stronger the gangs grow, the more difficult it will become to counter them, and the more our law-abiding societies will fray and crumble − leading, as is all too visible in many parts of the world, to failed states in Europe.

Political Science

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