Two drug dealers in the UK who bought and sold synthetic opioid fentanyl via dark web marketplaces have been handed a jail sentence adding up to 16 years.
Ross Brennan and Aaron Gledhill who happen to be university friends, are believed to have accumulated over hundreds of pounds of drugs after mixing the powerful heroin substitute with other drugs. They then sold the resulting product on the dark web.
The UK fentanyl epidemic seems to be growing bigger. The painkiller and anesthetic, is 50 times more powerful than morphine and has been hitting the headlines in the UK as of late killing over 70 people. These overdoses deaths happened over nine months with most of them taking place in Yorkshire.
Huddersfield natives, Brennan and Gledhill both pleaded guilty to drug and money laundering offenses. According to the York Crown Court, Brennan was rumored to be the “mastermind” behind the operation and was handed a 13-year sentence with Gledhill, his compatriot whom Brennan said to have “exploited” receiving a sentence of three years and nine months.
After the sentencing, the lead investigator into the duo for North Yorkshire Police, DI Nichola Holden, commented:
In what we believe to be the first case of its kind in the UK, Brennan and Gledhill made life-changing financial earnings through a sophisticated drugs supermarket on the dark web. But every single one of the thousands of transactions could have put lives at risk. At one point Brennan recognized that his actions may have led to fatalities. Rather than act on this, he continued the conspiracy to fund his extravagant lifestyle. There’s been a lot of recent media coverage about the devastating effects of fentanyl. It’s an extremely dangerous drug. It’s up to 100 times stronger than heroin and even a tiny dose can stop someone’s heart almost instantly. I’m confident that Brennan, in particular, had no doubt about the potential consequences. He was just too greedy, devious and calculating to stop.
North Yorkshire Police first discovered the duo’s activities when concerns were raised by neighbors about the wellbeing of Brennan, who suffers from autism.
They then searched Brennan’s flat in York and a property located in Huddersfield, upon which they uncovered a synthetic drugs production laboratory as well as computer equipment which had vital details of the dark web drug operation that the duo was running.
Speaking after the raid, Det Supt Steve Thomas stated: “What we found was a production laboratory for synthetic drugs and more traditional drugs. [We also found] computer equipment that over the weeks and months revealed a sophisticated drug dealing business operating on the dark web under the guise of a business called ‘Savage Henry’.
Brennan and Gledhill over the two years of running an illegal drug business made an income of up to £1,000 daily on a dark web marketplace, AlphaBay, which is no more after been closed by the FBI.
The Huddersfield pair bought, mixed and sold fentanyl with other drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth and then posted them along to dealers across the UK. All of this was done by the aid of a copy of the book ‘Chemistry for Dummies’.
The drugs were gathered by the post from many countries including Vietnam, the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, Poland, and Mexico.
Reports also suggest that their scheme had a value between £275,000 and £1.5m. This depended on the value of Bitcoin, the virtual currency they traded in.
Det Supt Thomas again speaking after the sentence said: “These are two individuals who clearly didn’t give any consideration to the welfare of their customers. They were only interested in the profit. These are people who had downloaded a ‘Chemistry for Dummies’ guide and then sent out potentially dangerous substances that on any occasion could have resulted in a serious impact on someone’s health or even death.”
He continues to say that Brennan would overreact with his autism and label himself as someone struggling with normal life but was all play acting and was really a “sophisticated criminal who was trying to pull the wool over a number of agencies’ eyes”.
Prior to that, officers had discovered several messages, encrypted of course from Brennan in which he was pretending to be a little iller than he actually was.
“They also knew that what they were selling was potentially dangerous, that’s the thing that really put a chill on the investigation team,” Dept Supt Thomas added.