The provider offered medical equipment at a price ten times higher than it had been before the epidemic.

The Paiporta Civil Guard, a town just south of Valencia, has opened an investigation into the distribution and sale of a batch of surgical masks and hydroalcoholic gel on the black market. The basic medical supplies were unpacked and handled at a company in the town of Alaquàs prior to being delivered to pharmacies, so “they lack sterility and could represent a source of contagion,” according to sources from the Ministry of Health.

The police operation was carried out in several towns in the region of l’Horta and the city of Valencia. After searching the company’s warehouse and checking the invoices and delivery notes, the police found that 70 pharmacies had purchased the medical equipment from the supplier.

The provider contacted the pharmacies through WhatsApp and offered the material at a price ten times higher than prices before the crisis, according to one of the pharmacists involved.

In addition, the Civil Guard seized three vans carrying masks and surgical gel on March 17, two days after the Government asked individuals and companies to deliver all the protection elements they had to the health authority.

Most of the cans of gel in these vans were not labelled so the Civil Guard is now also investiging whether they were filled with a disinfectant alcohol of unknown origin, and the masks were hidden in parcel bags.

Investigators found that the distributor is not on the gel manufacturer’s customer list. They also found out that the confiscated cans may belong to a batch distributed in 2009, as the company stopped manufacturing this product about ten years ago.