London, United Kingdom - A group of individuals of Indian origin, including a father-son duo, has been sentenced to a combined 24 years in prison for operating a large-scale illicit drug production facility in the western part of London. Allen Valentine, aged 63, and his son Roshan Valentine, aged 39, along with Roshan's childhood friend Krunal Patel, aged 40, were handed their sentences during a court hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday. The conviction was a result of an investigation led by the Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit, which successfully demonstrated that the group had been selling counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs on the darknet.
Allen Valentine was sentenced to 11 years, Roshan Valentine received a seven-year sentence, and Patel was given a six-year jail term. Detective Constable Alex Hawkins, who headed the investigation, stated that the trio had run a sophisticated operation that involved the production and sale of fake pharmaceutical drugs on the darknet, which appeared to be genuine.
The charges brought against them included conspiring to manufacture Class C drugs and engaging in money laundering activities. While Patel and Roshan Valentine admitted to the offenses earlier this year, Allen Valentine pleaded not guilty but was ultimately convicted in May.
Emphasizing the unit's expertise in combating the sale of illegal goods on the darknet, Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, head of the Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit, said, "Our specialist Cyber Crime Unit are experts at infiltrating the sale of illegal items on the darknet. We work collaboratively with International Law Enforcement partners to ensure operations like this are stopped in their tracks."
Police investigations revealed that the trio had amassed illicit profits of at least 3.5 million pounds through their illegal operation. Various darknet marketplaces advertised drugs such as Xanax, Diazepam, and Valium in the past.
The charges encompassed a range of offenses, including conspiring to produce, possess, and distribute controlled substances classified as Class C drugs. Other charges included possessing and distributing Class C controlled drugs, conspiring to sell unauthorized trademarked goods, and conspiring to use registered trademarks without authorization. The investigation by Metropolitan Police detectives began in early 2022 and quickly uncovered the group's regular visits to a warehouse unit in western London.
The warehouse served as the central hub for the production, packaging, and distribution of the illicit drugs. Operating under the guise of Puzzle Logistics Limited, established in 2016, the group went about their activities. Each member would visit the unit daily, spending a significant portion of the day there. Notably, Krunal Patel would frequently leave the premises with large bags, only to return without them shortly after. Customers purchasing drugs on the darknet would pay with cryptocurrency, and the products would be dispatched accordingly.
Detectives utilized specialized cyber techniques to establish conclusively that the Valentines and Patel were involved in the production and sale of illegal substances. It was discovered that the trio had converted 3.5 million pounds from cryptocurrency into fiat currency, prompting law enforcement to freeze associated accounts.
On August 17, 2022, Krunal Patel was apprehended near the warehouse. At the time of his arrest, he had 15 parcels containing tablets imprinted with the brand names 'Xanax' and 'Teva,' both associated with licensed medications in the Benzodiazepine category. Later on the same day, Roshan and Allen Valentine were also arrested.
During a search of the warehouse, officers made a startling discovery: a concealed laboratory containing a wide range of equipment and containers filled with chemical substances. The investigation also revealed numerous crates containing pills manufactured on-site. The findings further solidified the case against the group.