UK gang jailed for counterfeit medicines plot25-Feb-2011
Members of a gang which planned to supply counterfeit erectile dysfunction tablets from a residential flat in central London were jailed by a UK court yesterday.
The sentences follow an investigation into a plan to produce counterfeit medicines with a street value of £1.6m ($2.6m). Police raided the flat in July 2010, which appeared to have been equipped to produce the ED drug tadalafil, marketed by Eli Lilly as Cialis.
The police investigation was assisted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Lilly and managed to intercept the gang before the public were exposed to any of their illegal products.
MHRA Head of Enforcement Mick Deats said, "This is a rare case of counterfeit medicines being manufactured in the UK. We generally find that counterfeit medicines found in this country have originated from the Far East."
Dutch national and former organic chemistry lecturer Christiaan Winkel, along with his girlfriend Yuly Sandoval-Moro and associate Safa Issoto Ba Sedi, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Winkel was sentenced to 40 months in jail, Ba Sedi to 21 months and Sadoval-Mora to eight months suspended.
Winkel and Ba Sedi were also sentenced to an additional 18 months and six months, respectively, for conspiring to produce and supply Class C controlled drugs, including ecstasy (MDMA). The case provides evidence of the often-speculated link between counterfeit medicines and illegal drug trafficking.
Winkel left his job at University College London in order to take part in the plot, importing a tablet press and ingredients to make the fake Cialis tablets. He was caught after offering to supply drugs to undercover officers posing as dealers.
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