London, September 9, 2023 (IANS): Three Indian-origin men have been sentenced to a combined jail-term of 24 years in the UK for running a large-scale counterfeit class C drug supply operation on the dark web, police said.
Allen Valentine, 63, his son Roshan Valentine, 39, and Roshan’s childhood friend Krunal Patel, 40, were sentenced at the Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday for producing and selling Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative.
The trio also had several accounts on different dark web markets and advertised the sale of Xanax, Diazepam and in the past Valium, and made at least 2 million pounds in illicit profit, the Met Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, which led the investigation, said.
The court handed down a prison term of 11 years to Allen Valentine, seven years to his son Roshan and six years to Patel.
“The three men ran a sophisticated, large-scale production of fake pharmaceutical drugs sold on the dark web that appeared to be genuine. Their operation was solely for the greed of those involved bearing no concern for the vulnerabilities of those purchasing these drugs,” Detective Constable Alex Hawkins of the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, who led the investigation, said.
“Some of the drugs contained completely different chemicals from those which should be in the genuine tablets; some of them are extremely dangerous.”
Detectives began the investigation in January 2022, following which they discovered the three men were visiting a warehouse unit at Acton Business Centre from where the drugs were produced, packaged and supplied.
Each of the men visited the unit on a daily basis, often staying for much of the day.
Krunal Patel would frequently leave with large bags, returning 10 to 15 minutes later without the contents of the bags.
Users would purchase the drugs on the dark web, paying in cryptocurrency, which were then posted.
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Detectives found that the men converted two million pounds from cryptocurrency into fiat currency (sterling). T
heir accounts have been frozen by police.
Krunal Patel was arrested near to the warehouse on August 17 last year with 15 parcels labelled for posting to addresses across the UK.
Inside those parcels were tablets imprinted “Xanax” and “Teva”, both brand names for licensed medicines within the Benzodiazepine group. Roshan and Allen Valentine were arrested later that same day.
Officers searched the warehouse and found a concealed laboratory where a large amount of equipment and several containers of chemical substances were discovered, along with numerous crates of pills manufactured on site.
Allen Valentine told the jury he was a doctor and has qualifications in pharmacy, enquiries are currently ongoing to verify the claims.
All three were charged with conspiracy to produce Class C drugs and money laundering offences on August 19, 2022 and were remanded in custody.
At a hearing in Isleworth Crown Court in February 2023, Krunal Patel and Roshan pleaded guilty to the charges, which included, conspiracy to produce and supply controlled drugs of Class C; possessing a controlled drug of Class C with intent to supply; conspiracy to sell trademarked goods without authorisation; conspiracy to use a registered trademark for labelling or packaging goods without authorisation.
They also admitted to possessing articles designed to make unauthorised copies of registered trademarks and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property.
Allen Valentine pleaded not guilty to the same offences and was found guilty on May 9, following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court. (IANS)