Men behind UK fake pharma factory found guilty

Three men from London, UK, have been convicted for running a large-scale pharmaceutical factory supplying counterfeit benzodiazepine drugs on the dark web.

The Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit led the investigation after they received intelligence from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US that the men – Allen Valentine, his son Roshan Valentine and childhood friend Krunal Patel – had been advertising the drugs as Xanax, Diazepam and Valium via several different dark web marketplaces.

The Met estimates that they made at least £3.5m ($4.4m) in illicit profit from the illegal activity, receiving payments from customers in cryptocurrencies which they then converted into sterling.

Detectives began the investigation in January 2022 and, soon after, they discovered the three men were visiting a warehouse unit at Acton Business Centre. It was from here that the drugs were produced, packaged and supplied. 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 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 of the bags.

Detectives utilised specialist cyber tactics to prove it was the Valentines and Patel who were making and selling the illegal substances. Their accounts have been frozen by police.

On August 17 last year, 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 and has qualifications in pharmacy, enquiries are currently ongoing to verify the claims.

“The three men ran a sophisticated, large-scale production of fake pharmaceutical drugs sold on the dark web that appeared to be genuine,” said Detective Constable Alex Hawkins of the Cyber Crime Unit, who led the investigation.

“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,” he added.

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