Jake Levene (left), 22-years-old and Mandy Christopher Lowther (right), 21-years-old were sentenced to 16.5 years each, while the third member in-charge of packaging, 45-years-old Lee Childs (middle) received 10.5 years of imprisonment.
They were sentenced on Friday 18th of January 2019 at the Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to multiple accusations of class-A drug trafficking, mainly fentanyl and its analog carfentanyl. The very strong synthetic opioids are 100 times and 10,000 times stronger, respectively than morphine. Most shockingly, the gang was mixing the two compounds using bulking agents at an improvised laboratory in an industrial unit in Peel Street, Leeds and was reselling the extremely potent and unstable substances over the darknet, under the name of “UKBargins.”
Investigators have identified six British clients of the criminal trio that have overdosed and died from fentanyl consumption. Although not yet confirmed by forensics, the investigators suspect the gang’s potent mix of fentanyl and carfentanyl to be the cause at least one of the cases.
The criminal group sold 2,853 parcels to 443 clients internationally and 172 nationally for a total estimated profit of £163,474 between December of 2016 and April of 2017.
Police officers from the National Crime Agency and West Yorkshire Police raided the small facility and confiscated the largest amount of carfentanyl ever to be seized in Europe — 2.6kg of carfentanyl. Another batch of 440 grams was of extreme purity.
… knows what this is???!! IT IS EVIL
Senior Investigating Officer Graham Roberts declared: “Fentanyl and carfentanyl are extremely potent, the latter having no medical uses for humans. Not only is it potentially lethal for those taking it, but these drugs also pose a serious danger to all those that come into contact with them, be that first responders like law enforcement and medical staff, or in this case, postal staff.”
“UKBargins” site was listed on AlphaBay dark web market. As a warning, the homepage read the message:
“I WILL NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT FENTANYL OR ITS ANALOGUES AS THE CUSTOMER SHOULD ALREADY HAVE RESEARCHED THESE CHEMICALS BEFORE EVEN CONTEMPLATING USING THEM AS THEY ARE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS & LETHAL IN THE WRONG HANDS.”
However, the written moral warning did not convince the judges. After the lengthy prison terms, each member has to adhere to strict parole included in the Serious Crime Prevention Order. Meaning internet and communication restrictions, limitations on the possession of virtual currencies or certain chemicals. If the conditions are not met, they risk further years in prison.
Policeman Graham Roberts added:
“Childs, Lowther, and Levene knew these drugs were life-threatening yet they continued to sell them for their own financial gain. The lengthy jail terms handed down to them today are a reflection on their dangerous and careless actions. This operation shut down their business, therefore taking out a key international supplier of the chemicals. However, the threat from synthetic opioids remains and the NCA works with law enforcement partners, using all the tools at our collective disposal to tackle this worldwide threat.”
Detective Superintendent Pat Twiggs of West Yorkshire Police, declared:
“I welcome the sentencing of Childs, Lowther, and Levene for their role in manufacturing and distributing potentially lethal illegal drugs from the heart of our communities in West Yorkshire. While we cannot prove that the specific batches of fentanyl and carfentanil they sold from Morley caused deaths directly, both kinds of substance are linked to many fatalities. We worked closely with the NCA to investigate and then dismantle this operation and I think the sentences given to these persons reflect the danger their activity posed.”