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Patel among 'prolific' UK drug gang jailed for 11 years

Jaikishen Patel, 26, was jailed for 11 years and two months, while his accomplices – Basil Assaf, Elliot Hyams, Joshua Morgan and James Roden – were given different terms by the Manchester Crown Court.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2018 23:51 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Indian-origin,drugs,University of Manchester
Under the brand name Ivory, the gang members sent drugs, including LSD, ecstasy, 2CB, ketamine and valium, to buyers around the world. (Reuters file)

An Indian-origin man was part of a gang whose five members have been jailed for a total of 56 years for their role in “prolific”dealing in drugs through the dark web and leading a lavish life when they were students at the University of Manchester.

Jaikishen Patel, 26, was jailed for 11 years and two months, while his accomplices – Basil Assaf, Elliot Hyams, Joshua Morgan and James Roden – were given different terms by the Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday following an international investigation involving British and US officials.

Their drugdealing through a website called Silk Road was described as prolific by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA). It said the website, modelled on eBay and Amazon, was part of the internet known as the dark web and was used to sell a range of illicit goods, though it was most well-known for drug sales.

NCA said the group, led by Assaf, moved its small-time drug dealing operation to Silk Road in May 2011, and soon ran one of its most successful businesses. Junior member Morgan was paid to package drugs for the group.

Under the brand name Ivory, the gang members sent drugs, including LSD, ecstasy, 2CB, ketamine and valium, to buyers around the world. In the course of 6,305 individual sales, the students sent almost 17 kg of liquid ecstasy, equivalent to 240,000 tablets, through the post to buyers.

According to the NCA, the gang also sent more than 1.2 kg of 2CB and more than 1.4 kg of ketamine. They sent LSD in small bottles and in individual doses on paper, stamps and sweets.

They netted at least $1.14 million (about £812,000), though where possible they took cash or crypto currencies, meaning the total value of sales was likely to be considerably greater. The online shop funded a luxury lifestyle for the group, including holidays in the Bahamas and Jamaica, and weekends partying with suppliers in Amsterdam, NCA said in a statement.

The gang was arrested following infighting among the members and the FBI shutting down the Silk Road website in October 2013.

Ian Glover of NCA said: “These five men were interested only in making money. They had no regard whatsoever for the harm these drugs could do to their users. The FBI’s excellent work shut the site down in 2013 in a globally significant operation and information they shared with us enabled us to identify, arrest and successfully build this case.”

First Published: Mar 22, 2018 23:51 IST