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METH MAN: Chalfonts drug ‘mastermind’ jailed after lab discovery

 Published on: 5th June 2023   |   By: Bryn Holmes   |   Category: Uncategorized

A Chalfonts St Giles man who was the “mastermind” behind one of the country’s largest-ever drug factories has been jailed for 18 years.

John Keet, 42, was running a laboratory in Warwickshire that was capable of producing 400 kilos of amphetamine a month, worth up to £2million at wholesale and up to £10million at street level.

At Kingston Crown Court on Wednesday, May 10, Keet pleaded guilty to all charges, which included conspiracy to produce a class B drug, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to supply class B drugs, conspiracy to import class B drugs and conspiracy to conceal, convert of transfer criminal property.

He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment for cocaine supply, with all of the other charges being lesser and to run concurrently.

Using funds from a life of crime dealing cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines, Keet built and managed the lab. He even paid for his right-hand man, Keith Davis, 62, also from Chalfont St Giles, to undergo chemistry training to help operate the site.

They were joined by Andrew ‘The Geek’ Gurney, 52, of Quinton, Birmingham, who was known for his specialist electrical and plumbing skills. He underwent the same training as Davis and converted what had been a double garage outbuilding into the lab.

An associate of Keet, Elliot Walker, 49 of Kidbrooke, London, bought the specialist equipment for the lab.

The drugs produced in the lab were distributed to dealers across the West Midlands, London and Kent.

The four men were caught as part of Operation Venetic, a National Crime Agency (NCA) manoeuvre to take down the encrypted communication platform EncroChat, which was being used by criminals to communicate and plan.

Following weeks of surveillance, NCA officers, aided by Warwickshire Police, raided the laboratory on April 27, 2021.

West Midlands Fire Service also attended, though it was several hours before firefighters could enter the building due to the noxious fumes and hazardous chemicals inside.

On the same date as the raid, all of the gang members were arrested West Midlands Fire Service on suspicion of drug offences.

Davis and Gurney were previously sentenced to five years’ and six years’ imprisonment respectively, but this was later increased to 10 years after a judge ruled the sentences to be unduly lenient.

Walker was jailed for six years for conspiracy to produce class B drugs.

NCA branch commander Matt McMillan said: “John Keet was the mastermind behind this operation and created one of the largest drugs factories ever found in the UK.

“He even paid for crime group members to undertake chemistry training, so that the drugs produced yielded the highest profit possible.

“These drugs were being supplied to other crime groups, and will have fuelled violence, fear and exploitation in communities across the UK.

“By closing down this lab and dismantling this crime group, the NCA and its partners have protected the public.”

Photo credit: National Crime Agency

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