England

Fake Viagra gang sentenced over £10m drug scam

Viagra pills
Image caption The gang sold counterfeit medication including fake erectile dysfunction pills (genuine Viagra pictured)

A gang who made at least £10m selling bogus Viagra containing acid, paint and brick dust have been sentenced.

The fake pills were sold through a series of front companies by a "highly organised, large-scale criminal enterprise" between 2004 and 2011.

The Old Bailey was told the scam, which netted about £60,000 a week, had bases in North East Lincolnshire and Sussex.

Three men from London and Brighton were given six, four and five-year jail terms on Monday.

The court heard the "sophisticated and carefully planned" scam offered cheap erectile dysfunction pills and other counterfeit medication to customers around the world.

'Catastrophic damage'

Bogus mail order companies that claimed to sell jewellery, fishing tackle and cosmetics were used by the gang to accept money, which was then laundered through bank accounts.

Judge Charles Wide QC said genuine drug firms found acid, brick dust and road paint in the fake pills and "the real mischief is the catastrophic damage that could be caused" to the public.

He said although the total amount the gang made from the scam was not known it netted at least £10m, and receipts from 2011 showed it was averaging £60,000 a week.

Neil Gilbert, 42, of Crayford, south-east London, who was described as the "major operational role and was the head of the Sussex operation", was imprisoned for a total of six years for a series of offences including money laundering, conspiracy to sell or supply a medicinal product without marketing authorisation and selling or distributing counterfeit goods.

Mark Bristrow, 45, also of Crayford, was jailed for a total of four years for money laundering, conspiracy and selling or distributing counterfeit goods.

Seth Pennington, 42, of Brighton, was sentenced to a total of five years for money laundering, possessing counterfeit goods and conspiracy to sell or supply.

Two women from Ulceby in North Lincolnshire and Brighton were both sentenced to three years and 10 months and two years and six months respectively, for their part in the operation.

A man based in Thailand, a man and a woman from Ulceby, a woman from Cleethorpes and a Brighton man all received suspended sentences.

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