A man who used his online chemical supply businesses to sell large quantities of cutting agents to drug dealers has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police Service’s Organised Crime Partnership.
Gregory King, 26, from Wetherby in West Yorkshire, dealt mainly in the pharmaceutical drug benzocaine, and bought 1.2 tonnes of it between April 2013 and January 2014.
The chemical is a dental anaesthetic which is popular for bulking cocaine to increase the quantity of the drug, and the criminal profit available when it is sold on, without altering its appearance.
Over a two year period, King supplied benzocaine, as well as lidocaine, phenacetin, caffeine, paracetamol and aspirin to drug dealers throughout the UK and internationally.
He was initially arrested by West Yorkshire Police in January 2014 after large quantities of cutting agents, some in jiffy bags ready for postage, were seized from a lock-up in Wetherby from which he ran his business. He was interviewed and released on bail but continued to operate.
In June 2014, Babak Rajabzadeh, aged 27 from Southampton, contacted King and arranged the purchase of 50 kilos of benzocaine. Rajabzadeh’s associate, David Brown, aged 28, employed Desmond Bellamy, 29, both also from Southampton, to travel to Leeds in June 2014 to collect the benzocaine in two barrels.
On the same afternoon, Bellamy delivered one barrel of benzocaine to Alfred Henaj, 35, from London, handing it over on a roof-top supermarket car park in Islington.
Henaj put the barrel into the boot of his car and arranged for another man to collect the car that day. The car was stopped by police who recovered the barrel from the boot and arrested Henaj in a nearby coffee shop.
Later that night Bellamy was stopped on the M3 as he headed home with a second barrel of benzocaine. Officers found £3,500 in the glovebox, which Henaj had given to him to pay for the barrel, and he was also arrested.
Investigators identified that Babak Rajabzadeh had been in telephone contact with both Gregory King and Alfred Henaj. Gregory King later gave the police a copy of an invoice made out to Babak Rajabzadeh for the sale of 50kgs of benzocaine at a cost of £5,000.
The 1.2 tonnes of benzocaine purchased by King had the potential to be mixed at a ratio of 1:1 with cocaine to create in excess of two tonnes of cocaine for the wholesale market.
Ten kilos of benzocaine costing approximately £3,000, mixed with ten kilos of cocaine costing approximately £350,000, generates a potential return of £750,000.
King and Henaj were found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey in March 2016 of conspiring to supply class A drugs . On 29 June 2016 they received sentences of 18 years and 14 years respectively.
Babak Rabzadeh received eight years to be served consecutively to the 12 years he is already serving, and David Brown received four years to be served consecutively to the five years he is already serving.
Desmond Bellamy was given a community order.
Andy Tickner from the Organised Crime Partnership said: “Gregory King helped the illegal drugs trade make millions of pounds in profits. The quantity of cutting agents he was supplying would have had a wider impact on the availability and purity of cocaine on the streets of the UK, bringing the price down to a level which made it accessible to more users, and exposed more people to risk.
“Together with our colleagues at West Yorkshire Police, the Organised Crime Partnership was able to disrupt and bring to justice a major supplier of cutting agents to the illegal drugs trade.”
Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, of Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “King’s large-scale supply of cutting agents from his lock-up in Wetherby played a major part in the drugs trade across the UK.
“We know only too well that Class A drugs cause significant damage both to the lives of individuals who take them and in communities where they fuel crime and anti-social behaviour.
“A detailed and comprehensive investigation into his activities by my officers produced the bulk of the evidence against him. We linked with a number of other police forces and supported the work of the Organised Crime Partnership to see him brought to justice.
“We hope the sentence he has received will send out a deterrent message to others who are involved in the supply of drugs. We will continue to gather intelligence from the community and elsewhere and focus our attention on those who think they can get away with dealing drugs without having to face the consequences.”
The Organised Crime Partnership brings together officers from the NCA and the MPS to protect the communities of London from the harms inflicted by organised crime.