Pakistan indicts 76 customs officers in fake drug probe

The spotlight is back on Pakistani customs officials. With the force having previously been accused of accepting bribes to facilitate global counterfeiting operations, the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has now indicted 76 customs officials as part of an investigation into the unlawful clearance of raw materials.

Business Recorder reports the FIA made the indictments after raiding a production plant, at which it found evidence drugs including the antibiotic oxytetracycline and the anti-inflammatory meloxicam were manufactured without a license. The facility was reportedly unhygienic and it lacked purchase records for raw materials. FIA officials suspect customs officers knowingly cleared pharmaceutical raw materials which went on to be used to make fake drugs.

The suspicion led to the FIA indicting 76 Karachi-based customs officers and summoning them to explain themselves in front of its investigators. None of the customs officers can rely on the support of their department, with an anonymous source from within the unit telling Business Recorder each of the 76 officials must make their case to FIA individually. The department is seemingly distancing itself from the affair.

While the case only involves Pakistani officials, its implications are global. Pakistan has played a role in several international counterfeiting scandals in recent years. Last year two men were arrested in London and extradited to the U.S. on charges of selling fake drugs online. The operation allegedly ran businesses in Pakistan and bribed local customs officers to secure passage of the fakes out of the country.

- read the Business Recorder article
- and its follow-up story