THE KINGPIN of an organised crime group that controlled one of the largest amphetamine laboratories ever found in the UK has been jailed for 18 years.
National Crime Agency investigators identified encrypted messaging platform EncroChat was being used to run the lab in Henley – capable of producing 400 kilos of amphetamine per month, worth £2 million at wholesale and up to £10 million at street level.
The crime group would then distribute the drugs to dealers in the West Midlands, London and Kent.
Leader John Keet, 42, of Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, invested profits from a career dealing cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines into building and managing the lab.
Andrew Gurney, 52, 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.
Keet pleaded guilty to all the charges during an earlier hearing at Kingston Crown Court , and was jailed for 18 years at the same court on Wednesday (10 May).
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.”
The NCA’s investigation formed part of Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of the EncroChat encrypted communication service.
Following weeks of surveillance, NCA officers raided the site in Ullenhall Lane in Henley with assistance from Warwickshire Police.
The gang members were all arrested on suspicion of drug offences at their home addresses on the same day the factory was raided.