Most of the Irish seizures were made at premises in Dublin or involved the searching of parcels at post depots as the items entered the State.

The drugs included weight loss and erectile dysfunction pills, mood stabilisers, antibiotics, hormones, steroids, cardiac and anti-cholesterol medicines, pain killers, anti-depressants, cancer medication and insulin.

Their sale via websites is illegal. Much of the medication seized is also of unknown origin and is suspected of being manufactured in back-street laboratories with no quality control.

The international investigation focused on the internet service providers hosting the illegal websites and the payment card systems and delivery services used by the sites.

Intelligence was gathered that identified the locations where the illegal drugs were being stored, the times when new drugs were due to enter the State and the suspects behind the operations.

The Irish Medicines Board, which led the Irish element of the operation, said the substances seized represented a serious threat to public health. Chief executive Pat O’Mahony said the websites through which the products were being sold appeared professional and genuine.

“The reality is they are an elaborate and potentially dangerous deception. You have no way of knowing what these medicines really contain, where they were made or the effect they might have on your health.”

The medicines board, which licenses medicines and medical devices, worked with Revenue’s Customs service and the Garda on the operation here.

Drugs were seized in Dublin and Cork, including warehouses and in the postal system. Other seizures were found in the homes of people identified via Garda intelligence as being involved in the illegal trade here. Stashes of drugs were hidden in the attics, kitchens and bedrooms of houses.

One seizure was made in a retail outlet. The seizures here were valued between €200 and €100,000. A total of 262,000 tablets and capsules were found here valued at €500,000.

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