Policeman 'executed' in pharma cargo theft

Mexican policeA policeman in Mexico has been shot dead whilst trying to prevent the theft of a pharmaceutical shipment.

The officer was shot six times - in a manner described as an 'execution' by Mexico's Excelsior newspaper - during an assault on the truck on Escárcega-Chetumal highway, a key transit route which cuts across the south of the country. The nature and value of the shipment is not yet known.

The robbers killed the policeman - named as 35-year-old Carlos Salinas Wong - then made their escape empty-handed. A few hours later one of the suspects was stopped boarding a bus to Villahermos, although the others remain at large.

Along with Brazil, South Africa, Somalia and Syria, Mexico remains a hot spot for cargo theft with a 'severe' risk-rating from Freightwatch International, meaning that it involves organized criminals engage in large-scale targeting of cargo - often with violence.

It is estimated that there are between 5,000 and 6,000 cargo theft incidents per year in Mexico, with pharmaceuticals accounting for around 1 per cent of the total. The most commonly-stolen product categories are food/drinks (22 per cent), building/industrial (19 per cent) and electronics (4 per cent), according to Freightwatch.

While there has been a shift of late from violent hijacks to less confrontational methods such as stealing trailers and burgling warehouses, the latest fatality is a stark reminder of the risks involved with the transport of cargo in Mexico.

Pharma theft news in brief

- Police in Italy have arrested nine people involved in at least 18 thefts of pharmaceuticals from hospitals - worth an estimated $6.8m - between December 2013 and January 2015. The stolen medicines included Rilutek (riluzole), a drug sold by Sanofi as a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as motor neurone disease).

- A stolen shipment of pharmaceuticals with an estimated value of $350,000 has been recovered by police in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The shipment was stolen in transit from Rio to Sao Paulo and is thought to have been taken by a gang operating under the direction of notorious Brazilian criminal known by the nickname 'Playboy', according the Pharmaceutical Cargo Security Coalition (PCSC).

- A manufacturer of the erectile dysfunction treatment sildenafil based in Germany has warned that criminals may be trying to inveigle a stolen shipment of the drug back into the legitimate supply chain. Sildenafil - originally developed by Pfizer which sells it as Viagra - has been available from a number of generic manufacturers in Germany since 2013.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Frontpage

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