UK man arrested for supplying fake tramadol, diazepam

A man has been arrested in Manchester, UK, as part of a crackdown into the supply and distribution of illicit and counterfeit prescription medication, including the opioid painkiller tramadol and anxiety drug diazepam.

Earlier this year as part of a campaign called Operation Cranium, officers in Cheetham Hill carried out a raid at an address in Ardwick, confiscating almost £40,000 ($53,500) in cash, suspected to be from the illegal supply of illicit prescription medication.

Further searches at addresses across Cheetham Hill and an address in Fallowfield resulted in the seizure approximately £8,500 worth of illicit benzodiazepine drugs – including counterfeit copies of Galenika's Bensedin brand of diazepam – as well as other class B drugs.

This week, officers arrested a 25-year-old on suspicion of possession of class B drugs with intent to supply, obstructing police and money laundering. He remains in custody at this time.

"Operation Cranium is an investigation alongside our partners following the rise in the use of illicit prescription medicines which can lead to fatal consequences," said Inspector William Jennings-Wharton, of City of Manchester division.

"Our priority is tackling the supply and distribution of such drugs across the region and this arrest is a huge step in our aim to tackle the issue," he added.

Operation Cranium was launched in the summer to tackle the supply and distribution of illicit and counterfeit prescription medication across Greater Manchester and the associated criminality around this type of crime. It is targeting both individuals and organised crime Groups.

The activity is not just centred around Greater Manchester but across the North West and the UK in general, and it is suspected that a number of deaths have occurred in relation to this illicit supply chain.

The most common counterfeit medicines found include diazepam, pregabalin, alprazolam, zopiclone and tramadol.

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