Three men have been jailed after the Met uncovered a £2million drug counterfeiting operation on the dark web.
The trip was sentenced to a total of 14 years in prison at Isleworth Crown Court.
The Met Police’s Cyber Crime Unit led the investigation after receiving information from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States that the men were selling drugs online.
Allen Valentine, his son Roshan Valentine, and Krunal Patel, a childhood friend, manufactured and sold benzodiazepines, a class C type of tranquilizer. The court heard they made illegal profits of at least £2 million.
The three also had multiple accounts on various dark web markets, promoting the sale of Xanax, Diazepam and, in the past, Valium.
Investigators began investigating in January 2022 and shortly thereafter discovered that the three men were visiting a warehouse in the Acton Business Centre.
From here the medicines were manufactured, packaged and delivered. The court heard the men were operating under the guise of a company called Puzzle Logistics Limited, founded in 2016.
Each of the men visited the unit daily and often stayed for most of the day. Krunal Patel would often leave with large bags and return 10 to 15 minutes later without the contents of the bags.
Users would purchase the drugs on the dark web and pay in cryptocurrency, which would then be made public.
The Cyber Crime Unit has in-depth knowledge of the dark web and training in cryptocurrencies, allowing them to efficiently advance the investigations.
Investigators used specialized cyber tactics to prove that Valentines and Patel were manufacturing and selling the illegal substances.
They found the three men had converted £2million of cryptocurrency into fiat (sterling) currency, with the accounts frozen by police.
On 17 August 2022, Krunal Patel was arrested near the warehouse and labeling 15 packages to be sent to addresses across the UK.
Inside those packets were pills labeled “Xanax” and “Teva,” both brand names for approved drugs within the benzodiazepine group. Roshan and Allen Valentine were arrested later the same day.
Officers searched the warehouse and found a hidden laboratory in which a large amount of equipment and several containers of chemical substances were discovered, as well as numerous boxes of locally made pills.
The pills were analyzed 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 and had a qualification in pharmacy. Investigations are currently underway to verify the claims.
All three were charged and remanded in custody on August 19, 2022, for conspiracy to manufacture Class C drugs and money laundering offenses.
Detective Constable Alex Hawkins, from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, led the investigation. He said, “The three men engaged in a sophisticated, large-scale production of counterfeit drugs that were sold on the dark web and appeared to be genuine.” Their operation was solely for the greed of those involved, with no regard for the vulnerability of those who bought the drugs.
“Some of the drugs contained completely different chemicals than those that were supposed to be in the original tablets; some of them are extremely dangerous.
“This is the first seizure of these chemicals in the UK and as such legislation will be amended later this year to include these drugs as Class A substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Stopping the production of these drugs eliminated a significant risk to the public.
“We would like to thank the pharmaceutical companies Viatris and Teva UK for assisting the Met in our investigation and supporting our prosecution against these dangerous and fraudulent men.”
“I would strongly advise everyone to seek medical advice and have a doctor prescribe medication. When you buy on the dark web, there is no guarantee as to what is contained in the substances, as in this case.”
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who heads the cybercrime unit, said: “Our cybercrime task force is expert at infiltrating the sale of illegal items on the dark web. We work with international law enforcement partners to ensure such operations are stopped immediately.”
Patel, 40, of Harrow, was sentenced to six years while Roshan Valentine, 39, of Northwood, was sentenced to seven years. Allen Valentine, from Harrow, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/three-jailed-counterfeit-drug-operation-dark-web-london-xanax-b1105820.html Three people jailed for counterfeiting drugs worth over £2 million on the dark web