Four members of an organised crime group, two of which are from Chalfont St Giles, ran one of the largest amphetamine factories ever found in the UK have been convicted of drugs offences.
National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators identified encrypted messaging platform EncroChat was being used to run the illicit drugs laboratory near Redditch.
The drugs lab was capable of producing 400 kilos of amphetamine per month, worth £2 million at wholesale and up to £10 million at street level. The drugs were distributed to dealers in the West Midlands, London and Kent.
Group ringleader John Keet, 41, of Chalfont St Giles, invested profits from a career dealing cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines into building and managing the lab.
He paid for Keith Davis, 62, also of Chalfont St Giles, to undergo chemistry training to enable him to operate the site.
Andrew Gurney, 51, of Quinton, Birmingham, known as ‘The Geek’ due to his specialist electrical installation and plumbing skills, converted what had been a double garage outbuilding into the drugs lab.
Gurney also received the same chemistry training as Davis.
Elliott Walker, 49, of Kidbrooke, south London, was an associate of Keet and purchased specialist equipment for the lab.
Work started on the building in March 2020, and it began producing drugs in May of that year.
NCA officers raided the site in Ullenhall Lane, Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, on April 27 last year, with assistance from Warwickshire Police.
The NCA’s investigation formed part of Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response to the July 2020 takedown of the EncroChat encrypted communication service.
NCA branch commander Matt McMillan said: “This investigation painstakingly identified that an unassuming outbuilding in rural Warwickshire was in fact one of the largest drugs laboratories ever found in the UK.
“Keet, Davis and Gurney went to extraordinary lengths to plan and prepare their criminal enterprise.
“Searching and closing down the lab, which was a complex and risky operation, was a great example of multi-agency cooperation to protect the public.”
The gang members were all arrested on suspicion of drug offences at their home addresses on the same day.
Davis and Gurney were convicted at Kingston Crown Court on June 8. Keet pleaded guilty to all the charges at the same court on 29 October last year.
Walker pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce class B drugs (amphetamine) on September 17 last year and was jailed for six years on December 14.
Davis was jailed for five years and three months and Gurney to six years and three months at Kingston Crown Court on June 10.
Keet is due to be sentenced on August 22.