Three men including a father and son along with a childhood friend have been jailed for a combined 24 years for running a pharmaceutical drugs lab and selling counterfeit drugs including Xanax on the dark web from a North Acton warehouse unit in St Leonard’s Road, NW10.
Allen Valentine, 62 of Kynaston Wood, Harrow, his son Roshan Valentine, 39 of Hilliard Road, Northwood and childhood friend Krunal Patel, 40 of Carmalite Road, Harrow, were producing and selling a range of counterfeit Benzodiazepine drugs which are only available on prescription and issued by doctors to treat anxiety disorders.
According to police, the trio made at least £3.5m in illicit profits and had several accounts on different dark web markets in which they advertised the sale of Xanax, Diazepam and also previously Valium.
The Met Police’s Cyber Crime Unit began the investigation in January 2022 and discovered the three men were visiting a warehouse unit at Acton Business Park in St Leonard’s Road, NW10 where the drugs were produced, packaged and supplied.
The Cyber Crime Unit were tipped off having received intelligence from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
During the investigation, detectives discovered the men were operating under a company called Puzzle Logistics Limited that was formed in 2016.
Each of the men visited the warehouse unit on a daily basis. 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 and then posted to them.
Detectives utilised specialist cyber tactics to prove it was the Valentines and Patel who were making and selling the illegal substances.
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 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.
Allen Valentine told the jury he was a doctor who has qualifications in pharmacy. Police are still investigating his claims.
Detective Constable Alex Hawkins, of the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit led the investigation 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.”
All three were charged with conspiracy to produce Class C drugs and money laundering offences on 19 August 2022 and were remanded in custody.
Roshan Valentine and Krunal Patel pleaded guilty to the following offences on 10 February 2023 at Isleworth Crown Court:
Conspiracy to produce controlled drugs of Class C;
Conspiracy to 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;
Possession of articles designed to make unauthorised copies of registered trademarks;
Conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property.
Allen Valentine pleaded not guilty to the same offences and was found guilty on 9 May 2023 following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court.
Krunal Patel was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, Roshan Valentine was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and Allen Valentine was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance 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.”