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UK gang members jailed for part in illegal sale of prescription meds worth £3.7m

Three UK members of an “international criminal gang” were yesterday sentenced to jail for involvement in the illegal sale of prescription medicines valued at £3.7m, the MHRA has said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) yesterday (March 13) said that the organised criminal gang members were sentenced to “custodial sentences totalling 68 months”.

Yesterday’s sentencing came after the “UK members of an international criminal gang” pleaded guilty to “offences relating to the illegal sale of more than three million doses of prescription-only and unlicensed medicines, including controlled drugs, valued at £3.7m”, it added.

Read more: Manchester Police seize over one million suspected counterfeit pills

Grant Newton (49) of Fletchers Bank, Newcastle under Lyme, Darrell Baggley (56) of Maud Street, Stoke on Trent, and Callum Baggley (27) of Grangewood Road, Stoke on Trent, sold “several million pounds worth of medicines”, the MHRA said.
 
These included codeine, Tramadol, Diazepam, Zolpidem and various erectile dysfunction drugs on three different websites between August 2013 and December 2015, it added.

 

Three-year investigation

 

It follows a three-year investigation by the Criminal Enforcement Unit of the MHRA, the medicines watchdog said.

During 2015, the MHRA unit “received reports from members of the public that had not received their order and others expressing concerns about relatives buying products from these websites”, it added.

Read more: MHRA vows to investigate after media probe exposes ‘fake’ online pharmacies

After investigating the websites, the MHRA carried out a coordinated “arrest and search operation” at the defendants’ home addresses in 2016 - supported by the police - in which “various digital devices and storage items” were seized, it said.
 
“Subsequent analysis evidenced that the defendants had illegally supplied more than 3.2 million doses of medicines,” it added.

 

Jail sentencing

 

Stoke Crown Court, where the defendants were sentenced to jail, heard how Grant Newton was “leading the UK arm of the global gang”, according to the MHRA.

Meanwhile, Darrell Baggley “managed the warehouse and distribution and his son, Callum, managed the bank accounts as the director of the company at the forefront of the trade”, it said.

Read more: £850,000 worth of illegal medicines seized in major drugs bust

It added that Grant Newton and Darrell Baggley both received 28 months in custody for:
  • One count of supplying Class B drugs
  • One count of supplying Class C drugs
  • One count of selling prescription-only medicines
  • One count of selling unauthorised medicinal products
  • And one count of being “concerned in an arrangement which facilitated the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property”

Callum Baggley received 12 months in custody, suspended for 18 months, and 200 hours unpaid work for one count of being “concerned in an arrangement which facilitated the acquisition, retention, use or control of criminal property”, it said.

 

“Major criminal enterprise”

 

MHRA deputy director of criminal enforcement Andy Morling said that the case “involved a major criminal enterprise with truly global reach”.

“Our investigation and this prosecution effectively shut down the UK operation and dealt a significant blow to an international criminal network,” he added.

He stressed that “criminals trading in medicines illegally are not only breaking the law” but also “have no regard” for patient safety.

Read more: GPhC strikes off pharmacist for supplying zolpidem on black market

The MHRA “will continue to work tirelessly” to prevent “illegal trading in medicines wherever [it] can, disrupting offending and bringing dangerous criminals to justice”, Mr Morling said.
 
Ben Reid, specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), added that the gang “created a significant risk to the public’s health by illegally selling controlled drugs and prescription medicines which can cause serious side effects”.
 
 
“The CPS is working closely with the MHRA to bring offenders like these, who profit from the illegal sale of drugs and put vulnerable people at risk, to justice,” he said.
 
The MHRA stressed that the public should “be careful when buying medicines online” and warned against self-diagnosis and self-prescribing.

 

This article was updated at 9:30 on March 15 to clarify the home addresses of the defendants. Grant Newton’s home address is Fletchers Bank, Newcastle under Lyme, Darrell Baggley's is Maud Street, Stoke on Trent, and Callum Baggley’s is Grangewood Road, Stoke on Trent. However, Grant Newton was arrested at Talke Road, Chesterton, Darrell Baggley was arrested at Cauldon Avenue, Newcastle Under Lyme, and Callum Baggley was arrested at Falcon Road, Meir Park.

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