Gang jailed for £10 million-a-month amphetamine operation

·3-min read
The illicit drugs laboratory near Redditch. (NCA)
The illicit drugs laboratory near Redditch. (NCA)

An organised crime gang that ran one of the biggest amphetamine factories discovered in the UK has been jailed.

The drug lab could produce 881lbs (400 kilos) of amphetamine each month, worth £2million at wholesale and up to £10million at street level, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Crew member Andrew Gurney, 51, known as ‘The Geek’ because of his specialist electrical installation and plumbing skills, had converted a double garage outbuilding near Redditch into the drugs lab.

Ringleader John Keet, 41, invested profits from a career dealing cocaine, cannabis and amphetamines into building and managing the lab.

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Chemicals used to produce amphetamine in the factories. (NCA)
Chemicals used to produce amphetamine in the factories. (NCA)

Keet paid for his right-hand man, Keith Davis, 62, to take chemistry training to enable him to operate the site.

At Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday, Davis, of Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, and Gurney, of Quinton, Birmingham, were found guilty following a 12-day trial.

Davis was jailed for five years and three months, while Gurney was sentenced to six years and three months in prison at the same court on Friday.

Keet, also from Chalfont St Giles, pleaded guilty to all the charges at the same court last October and is due to be sentenced in August.

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Work started on the building in March 2020 and it began producing drugs in May that year, police said.

The gang initially bought amphetamine precursor chemical benzyl methyl ketone (BMK) but quickly realised it was more profitable to make it themselves.

The haul of drugs was distributed from the factory near Redditch in Warwickshire to dealers in the West Midlands, London and Kent.

Plumes of noxious fumes billowed from the outbuilding when it was opened by fire crews, who had to wait several hours before searching it due to the hazardous chemicals inside.

NCA officers and Warwickshire Police raided the site in Ullenhall Lane, Henley-in-Arden, Warwickshire, on 27 April last year.

(From l-r) Keith Davis, Elliott Walker, and Andrew Gurney set up and ran the lab. (NCA)
(From l-r) Keith Davis, Elliott Walker, and Andrew Gurney set up and ran the lab. (NCA)

Waste products from the production process, which had been flushed into the sewerage system, had also contaminated a nearby field.

Electronic weighing scales were found in Davis’ home and 300 kilos of BMK at a storage facility he used.

Police also found a string of documents and receipts in Gurney’s vehicles relating to heating equipment identified in the lab, weighing scales and chemicals needed for amphetamine production.

Officers also found PPE, including respirators and wellington boots with chemical traces of amphetamine on them.

Elliott Walker, 49, of Kidbrooke, south east London, was an associate of Keet and bought specialist equipment for the lab.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce class B drugs - amphetamine - last September 17 and was jailed for six years last December.