Made over £2million from counterfeit pills produced in local business park
Part of the area in which the drugs were manufactured. Picture: Met Police
September 8, 2023
Three men who were behind what police have described as a sophisticated and large-scale counterfeit drug operation which was run from an Acton business park have been jailed.
The Met first became aware of the activities of 63-year-old Allen Valentine, his 39-year-old son Roshan Valentine and 40-year-old childhood friend Krunal Patel when it received a tip-off from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The US-based organisation had noticed the volume of pharmaceutical drugs being sold by the operation on the internet. They were producing and selling Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative, which is a Class C drug. The trio also had several accounts on different dark web markets and advertised the sale of Xanax, Diazepam and in the past Valium. It is estimated they made at least £2 million in illicit profit.
The pills were made at a warehouse in the Acton Business Centre off School Road in North Acton. They were operating under the guise of a company called Puzzle Logistics Limited that was formed in 2016.
Detectives began the investigation in January 2022 and, soon after, they discovered the three men were visiting the unit on a regular basis staying for much of the day. It was from here that the drugs were produced, packaged and supplied. 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. The Cyber Crime Unit used its knowledge of the dark web and cryptocurrency to gather evidence of their activities. This provided proof that it was the Valentines and Patel who were running the operation.
The unit determined the three men converted £2 million from cryptocurrency into fiat currency (sterling). These accounts have since been frozen by police.
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 Patel 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.
The pills were analysed and found to contain Class C drugs from the Benzodiazepine group including Deschloroetizolam, Flubromazepam, Bromazolam and Flualprazolam.
All three were charged with conspiracy to produce Class C drugs, trademark violations and money laundering offences on 19 August 2022 and were remanded in custody. Krunal Patel and Roshan Valentine pleaded guilty on Friday, 10 February at Isleworth Crown Court but Allen Valentine pleaded not guilty but was convicted on Tuesday, 9 May following a trial at the same court. The elder Valentine of Kynaston Wood, Harrow told the jury he was a doctor and has qualifications in pharmacy, enquiries are currently ongoing to verify the claims.
His failure to plead guilty resulted in him receiving the longest sentence of eleven years imprisonment at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, 7 September while his son got seven and Patel six.
Krunal Patel and a 'xanax' pill the gang manufactured. Picture: Met Police
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 leads the Cyber Crime Unit, she 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."
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