“He was then seen carrying the bag inside the Post Office"
Mohammed Ghani sold counterfeit drugs on the dark web using a Post Office. He was caught with over £200,000 worth of tablets in a storage unit.
At Manchester Crown Court, Christopher Stables, prosecuting, said Ghani’s role in the commercial practice was to arrange the storage of the drugs and relay details of orders.
Orders were placed over the dark web and Ghani arranged the packaging of the drugs and posted them onto the buyers.
Meanwhile, the MHRA had been investigating a dark web seller known as ‘FatSam’ and subsequently carried out surveillance on Ghani.
Mr Stables said: “On May 31 2018 he was seen driving a white Audi A5 and then entering his home address at 4:50 pm.
“At around 6:30 pm he left the premises carrying a heavily laden white carrier bag, putting it in the boot of the Audi then driving to the post office.
“He was then seen carrying the bag inside the Post Office, using the post office scales on the public side, then entering the staff area behind the counter and taking the packages with him.
“He shook hands with the staff and was observed with a number of white envelopes containing handwritten addresses behind the counter.
“A test purchase was carried out on June 25, authorised by MHRA.
“The officer went onto the website ‘Dream Market’ and purchased Ambien.
“The officer searched for ‘FatSam’ and saw the product Ambien and that there were 20 tabs for sale – he purchased them for a fraction of a bitcoin, namely 0.007, which works out at £34.”
The next day, Ghani was spotted entering a car with a plastic bag then shortly after, arriving at the Post Office.
On July 1, 2018, the officer received a padded envelope and forwarded it onto the MHRA scientist for analysis.
On the sachet, a label read ‘colon cleanser’ and said it contained 50 tablets, the batch number and the best before date, listed as December 2019.
It also said that the goods were manufactured at Northern Neurocentrica with an address in Liverpool. It was later confirmed to be bogus.
The tablets were found to contain 7.6 milligrams of Zolpidem, a prescription-only medication and Class C drug.
In September 2018, another officer was authorised to purchase a further drug from ‘FatSam’, but despite receiving confirmation of the shipment, the delivery was never received.
In October 2018, a search warrant was executed at both Ghani’s home address and the storage unit which he was renting.
At his home, officers seized 7,510 tablets, with an estimated value of £3,496.
From the storage unit, 278,760 tablets, with an estimated value of £214,000, as well as packaging were seized.
Mr Stables continued: “Enquiries were made at the Post Office to establish whether they were complicit, the postmaster confirmed they knew the defendant as ‘Azeem’, and said he told them he was posting beads his wife had made.
“They also confirmed he bought 50 first-class stamps and said that during 2018 he began posting parcels and said he told them it was health supplements he had obtained from China.
“He was well known to the staff and permitted behind the counter, posted his own parcels and the postmaster estimated the defendant had posted hundreds of parcels in all.”
Since his arrest, it was revealed that Ghani is not a registered pharmacist or doctor. He also does not hold any relevant licences to manufacture or supply medicines.
Analysis of the drugs established that they were counterfeit versions.
The Recorder of Manchester, Judge Nicholas Dean QC said:
“There was some degree of sophistication using the dark web and for the distribution of Class C drugs.”
“I would think you did so for monetary gain.
“You are now of an age where I hope in the future you will avoid offending altogether – I hope we don’t see you again before this court.”
Ghani, of Longsight, Manchester, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years. He also received 180 hours of unpaid work.
Andy Morling, MHRA Head of Enforcement said:
“It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled, unlicensed or prescription-only medicines outside the strictly controlled medicines supply chain.
“Prescription only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.
“Their sale outside the legal supply route can lead to vulnerable people being exploited.
“Anyone who sells medicines illegally is not only breaking the law but shows a blatant disregard for the health and welfare of anyone who may purchase them.
“We work closely with regulatory and law enforcement partners to identify and take action against those involved, including bringing a criminal prosecution if necessary.
“If you think you have been offered a medicine illegally or have any information about suspected or known illegal trading in medicines, please contact the MHRA.”