Viagra gang who netted £10 million are given massive prison sentences

viagra gangA counterfeit drug gang consisting of twelve people managed to rake in a staggering fortune in excess of £10 million, a court heard earlier this week.

Under the guise of a nationwide mail-order fishing tackle company, the gang – which comprised of six people alone from northern Lincolnshire – flogged suspiciously low priced male impotence pills, apparently offering them either over the internet or selling them in person.

The phony pills could have resulted in “catastrophic damage” to the public due to the fact that fake Viagra tablets have previously been found to contain a variety of toxic substances such as acid, brick dust and road paint, Judge Charles Wide QC told the Old Bailey as he sentenced the gang.

A former married couple seemed to be the pioneers behind the operation, with a northern branch ran by the Thailand-based husband and his wife in control of the daily UK operation. Members of their family were also hired to successfully continue the illicit dealings.

A number of ‘front’ companies were formed that claimed to be selling items such as jewellery, fishing tackle and cosmetics in order to take-in electronic transactions, and the crooks then laundered the money through over 100 different bank accounts. In total, the exact amount of laundered money or that obtained by fraudulent means was undetermined, but estimates pit the proceeds at more than a staggering £10 million – raking in as much as £60,000 each week.

Prosecutor Gillian Jones told the Old Bailey: “This case is not about wanting to distribute good medicines cheaply, but rather the motivation was greed, with an utter disregard for patient safety.”

The court was told that the illegal dealings spanned for eight years from 2004, with those behind the scam carrying on even after being arrested on September 20, 2011. The arrests came after an investigation by the drugs regulatory body, MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory).

“The medicines that were seized which were purported to be Viagra and Valium, in fact, turned out to be counterfeit,” said Miss Jones.

“This was big business. The proceeds of the supply of these medicines, via websites which have been traced to various merchant facilities, is in excess of £10 million – that is not the real figure. Not all bank accounts have been identified.”

The money was transferred into bank accounts ran by those either directly involved in the conspiracy or members of their family, and was then either withdrawn in cash or put back into the business to keep it running.

Miss Jones continued: “They purported to be trading fishing tackle, cosmetics or jewellery, but they were just a front to hide the real merchandise which was unlicensed medicines. As demand grew, the customer database widened to countries including Sweden, France and Germany.”

After the banks began raising questions about transactions going through the accounts, the gang then craftily opened accounts offshore in Belize and Panama.

Last Monday, the crooks paid the penalty however for tricking the public by selling the dangerous fake erectile dysfunction drugs, and drugs for other apparent purposes.

A 42-year-old man from Brighton was given a massive 17-year prison sentence for being the main man in the scam and found guilty of offshore money laundering. The judge also jailed a 45-year-old man from Crayford, Kent, to four years, describing him as the middle man of the operation. He was found guilty of money laundering, conspiracy and selling or distributing counterfeit goods. Other members of the gang were also slapped with sentences totalling several years between them, proving that crime doesn’t pay and will catch up with everybody eventually.

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