Three men convicted for setting up network selling through the dark web
Part of the area in which the drugs were manufactured. Picture: Met Police
May 11, 2023
An operation producing large amounts of illegal pharmaceuticals from a North Acton warehouse was raided after the police received a tip off from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US.
The factory had been set up by 62-year-old Allen Valentine from Harrow, his 39-year-old son Roshan Valentine from Northwood and his childhood friend 40-year-old Krunal Patel, also from Harrow. It was selling drugs in such quantity on the dark web that it attracted the attention of the American enforcement agency.
The information was passed to the Met Police's Cyber Crime Unit in January 2002 who found that the trio were producing and selling Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative, which is a Class C drug. They had made around £3.5million in profit from this activity and evidence was found that they had previously been advertising for sale Xanax, Diazepam and Valium.
The men were operating under the guise of a company called Puzzle Logistics Limited that was formed in 2016. Each of the men visited the unit in the Acton Business Centre on School Road 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. Customers would buy the drugs through the dark web paying in cryptocurrency. The product was then posted to them.
Specialists at the Cyber Crime Unit had the necessary expertise to prove it was the Valentines and Patel who were making and selling the illegal substances.
Allen Valentine and his son Roshan. Picture: Met Police
On 17 August 2022, Krunal Patel was arrested near to the warehouse, 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, along with numerous crates of pills manufactured were being stored on site. The pills were analysed and found to contain Class C drugs from the Benzodiazepine group including Deschloroetizolam, Flubromazepam, Bromazolam and Flualprazolam.
The £3.5million they had converted from cryptocurrency into sterling was tracked down and frozen and will later be subject to a confiscation order.
Krunal Patel and a 'xanax' pill the gang manufactured. Picture: Met Police
The two younger men had pleaded guilty and been convicted of drug, trademark violations and money laundering offences this February at Isleworth Crown Court. Allen Valentine had pleaded not guilty but was convicted at the same court on Tuesday 9 May. Valentine told the jury he was a doctor and has qualifications in pharmacy and enquiries are currently ongoing to verify the claims.
Detective Constable Alex Hawkins, of the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit led the investigation. He said, “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.
“Some of the drugs contained completely different chemicals from those which should be in the genuine tablets; some of them are extremely dangerous.
“This is the first seizure of those chemicals in the UK and as such legislation will be amended later this year to include these drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act as Class A substances. Stopping the manufacturing of these drugs has removed a significant risk to the public.
“We would like to thank pharmaceutical companies Viatris and Teva UK for assisting the Met in our investigation and supporting our prosecution against these dangerous and fraudulent men.
“I’d urge anyone to seek medical advice and obtain a prescription for medication through a doctor. If you buy from the dark web there is no guarantee what is in the substances, as with this case.”
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who leads the Cyber Crime Unit, said, “Our specialist Cyber Crime Unit are experts at infiltrating the sale of illegal items on the dark web. We work collaboratively with International Law Enforcement partners to ensure operations like this are stopped in their tracks."
A date has yet to be set for the men to be sentenced.
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