Couple in court over drug supply (methamphetamine precursors)

By Lunar Loops · Jan 31, 2007 · Updated May 22, 2013 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    A couple arrested in connection with an international inquiry into illegal drug production are due in court to face extradition proceedings to the US.

    Brian Howes, 43, from Middlesbrough, and Kerry Ann Shanks, 28, from Bo'ness, were arrested in Bo'ness on Tuesday by Central Scotland Police officers.

    Police were acting on behalf of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Cleveland Police and the Scottish force have been involved in a two-year probe into Crystal Meth production. The investigation focused on the alleged supply of chemicals involved in production of the synthetic drug - also known as methamphetamine - to individuals in the US, Europe and Australia.

    As well as the arrests, police also swooped on business addresses in Bo'ness, near Falkirk.

    A major police operation in June, involving up to 250 officers, saw a raid on the couple's alleged distribution centre in Grangemouth. Police said Mr Howes and Ms Shanks had lived for some time in Cleveland. The couple's appearance in court on Wednesday is expected to be held in private.

    BBC News
    31st January 2007

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  1. moda00
    Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    Internet drug rap couple face 98 years in US jail.

    Accused Of Supplying A £40m Internet Drugs Network, Brian And Kerry Ann Howes Face Extradition To The Usa And The Chance They May Never See Their Four Kids Again.

    A COUPLE accused of masterminding a £40million internet drugs ring have been told they face 98 YEARS in a US prison. Brian and Kerry Ann Howes are set to be extradited after raids on their warehouse in Grangemouth by the US Drug Enforcement Agency and police.

    Last week the Howes, who face a total of 80 charges, admitted exporting chemicals but claim they did not know they were being used to make highly addictive crystal meth.

    They are now preparing for the worst - a life sentence that would separate them from their four young daughters. Brian said: "We've been told all the charges add up to a possible 98 years."

    The indictment states that selling red phosphorus is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and selling iodine crystals can get you 10 years. Even if it was proven that we didn't sell those two chemicals deliberately for manufacturing meth, we could still face 68 years in jail."

    American prosecutors allege the Howes were involved in a £40million drugs ring but the couple, who ran Lab Chemicals International in Bo'ness, West Lothian, say it is a legitimate business, mostly supplying chemicals to make fireworks. The Howes were targeted in a sting by undercover US officers posing as buyers wanting to order red phosphorous and iodine crystals. Both chemicals are legal in the UK but strictly regulated in America.

    In one email, an undercover investigator wrote: "That last red you sent was some hot s**t...causing my meth lab to catch fire."

    Another said: "Can you provide me with a decent recipe? I'm sure you know what I mean...hehe."

    Police also claimed to have found a recipe for crystal meth on one of the Howes' 13 computers. But Brian, 44, claims he cancelled the order when his "client" mentioned crystal meth and did not respond to the recipe request.

    He said he kept recipes for hundreds of drugs and explosives to catch anyone he suspected of ordering chemicals for illegal purposes. Brian said: "The police tried to trap us by making it look like we knew we were supplying drug dealers.

    "But after that email mentioned crystal meth, we cancelled the order and informed the Special Branch."

    The couple spent seven months in prison without being charged with any offence and are now on bail waiting to find out if the US extradition request will be approved by Scottish ministers. Brian and Kerry Ann, 30, have two daughters - aged two and five. She is also mum to two other girls aged nine and 10 from a previous relationship. Brian said: "If we are taken to the US, the likelihood is that we will never see our children again. It would be tough for me but I don't think Kerry Ann would be able to handle it."

    He insisted he has always worked with the police, informing them of any suspicious orders.

    He added: "Central Scotland Police Special Branch visited us regularly when I informed them of anything suspicious and they never found anything wrong with what we were doing."

    Brian says he and his wife have been left in limbo, unable to work or raise any cash to pay their bills. He said: "The police have taken everything - cash, bank and credit cards, even the kids' piggy banks."

    Sunday Mail
    4th May 2008
  2. beentheredonethatagain
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    this was a bigg operation, maybe they should have quit after making millions.
  3. moda00
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    Perhaps, but if they weren't selling them someone else would have taken over, in fact many others have and do sell these chemicals. Meth has damaged people's lives for sure, but taking four young children from their parents is sure to damage lives, without stopping the problem of meth addiction. Perhaps the money and time put into tearing apart this family could have been out into rehabilitation programs for addicts or resources for children of incarcerated parents.
  4. RaverHippie
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    this is the first case that I've seen where the "I didn't realize the chemicals were being used for meth" defense looks legitimate given the reporting in the left-leaning article.
  5. beentheredonethatagain
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    okay you're right, but using the " if they don't sell it someone else will" argument won't hold any water with me.

    rob banks because if swiy doesn't someone else will.
  6. moda00
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    No, I do not mean it in that sense at all. I mean because there are legitimate uses for the chems that they will continue to be sold, so taking down someone under a questionable law based on proving intent as selling this chems for legitimate uses is not illegal nor evil in my book or the book of the law. I don't think harmful or hurtful things should be done just because "someone else will anyways," and think we are all responsible for our own actions, but many chemicals including these are sold daily and will continue to be sold, and as RaverHippie stated it really does seem they didn't intend this for meth and cut off contact with their 'client' when he mentioned it.

    Yes, and notice that this investigation was not launched because meth labs were found with chems from this couples' business- there is no meth involved in the case from the info in the article- the only meth involved is the implied, non-existent meth that the investigators mentioned in their emails. So not only did the couple "not realize the chemicals were being used for meth," it sounds like there is no proof that they were or are (although I don't doubt that it is a possibility, it sounds like they were very cautious about this, and I don't think it is fair to put someone in jail for life based on a "possibility")
  7. beentheredonethatagain
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    I have a chemistry question , so I'll ask it in the proper sub forum.
  8. enquirewithin
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    Also here:


    United States to Extradite a U.K. Citizen Without Trial in His Country

    Brian Howes and his wife Kerry are facing extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States. The couple could face up to 98 years in an Arizona prison on drug charges according to They are from Scotland and ran [​IMG]a chemical business and are accused of selling materials to be used in the manufacture of Methamphetamine.

    Despite the fact that the stuff sold is legal in the United Kingdom the couple faces extradition without a trial to the United States due to a treaty allowing U.K. citizens to be taken to America without a trial. This was implemented after the 9-11 attacks in the United States.

    Now I am a right wing conservative and hard on crime but I don't think 9-11 legislation should apply to anything other than terror suspects. Brian and Kerry Howes are not being charged with breaking United Kingdom laws, but rather drug laws here in America. I have no issue with bringing terrorist suspects to the United States without a trial in their own country. But we have plenty of people to prosecute on drug charges here without going to the expense of dragging people to the United States.

    The Howes claim they were selling materials to be used in making fireworks and medicine for animals according to a Sunday Post article by Craig Robertson. The Sunday Post comments can be found on the website linked to in the first paragraph of this article.

    I must admit I may have a small bias in this case. I am a user of the social networking site Twitter. I first learned of the Brian Howes extradition case on Twitter when I became a follower of Mr. Howes. I usually discount anything remotely Liberal and don't pay much attention to them. But what really got me interested in this case is their large family. Brian and Kerry Howes have 5 children and she was faced with jail time while pregnant. When I talked to Brian via Twitter about this article he told me "we have broken no UK laws so Extradition is Illegal under the treaty: NO Evidence either."


    Now if it had been white phosphorus which the US and Israel use in their terror attacks on civilians in Moslem countries that would be OK! :(
  9. jon-q
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    [imgr=white][/imgr] Bo'ness couple lose crystal meth extradition appeal

    A couple accused of supplying chemicals to crystal meth dealers over the internet have lost their appeal against extradition to the United States.

    Brian and Kerry Ann Howes, from Bo'ness, near Falkirk, are said to have sold legal chemicals which were then used to make illegal drugs in the US.

    The pair maintain they ran a legitimate business and have been fighting extradition for more than four years.

    Their lawyers are now considering a further appeal to the European Court.

    The pair were arrested by Central Scotland Police in 2007, amid claims they supplied more than 40 chemicals to dealers via the online company Lab Chemicals International.

    No UK trial

    The charges against Mr and Mrs Howes allege they used their internet company to supply red phosphorous and iodine to 400 customers in the US, most of whom were producing methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth.

    Red phosphorous and iodine are legal in Britain, but regulated in the US.

    The case falls under the 2003 Extradition Act which allows the extradition of people to the US without any trial taking place in the UK, removing the need for US authorities to provide prima facie evidence of criminality.

    An extradition order was made by the Scottish government on 29 May 2008.

    The Appeal Court upheld certain parts of the appeal, but ruled the extradition must go ahead as the couple had failed to establish that the action would be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Judges Lord Osborne, Lord Reed and Lord Mackay of Drumadoon said the alleged offences were of an "extremely serious nature".

    The allegations include deliberately mislabelling chemicals sent to the US in a bid to avoid detection.

    The ruling said: "This conduct is alleged to have been persisted in over a period of years, despite searches of the appellants' premises, the seizure of evidence, and a warning to desist by the United States authorities.

    "The highly dangerous nature of methamphetamine is reflected in the fact that it has, since 2007, been classified in the United Kingdom as a Class A drug in terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971."

    Mr and Mrs Howes face being separated from their children if they are extradited to the US, but the judges said the impact on the private life of the couple was "proportionate".

    They added: "The court proceeded on the basis that there is a risk that the children may require to be taken into care and that there is a risk, in that eventuality, that they may require to be separated.

    "The court observed that it is a sad, but unavoidable, fact of life that the consequences of criminal proceedings often affect the family of the wrongdoer more severely than the wrongdoer themself."

    BBC News 29th July 2011
  10. jon-q
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    Bo'ness couple win right to appeal against US extradition

    A COUPLE accused of exporting chemicals to illegal drug labs producing highly addictive crystal meth were today granted leave to take their human rights challenge against extradition to the United States to the Supreme Court.

    Mother-of-six Kerry Anne Howes, 33, and her husband Brian, 47, lost a bid to prevent them being sent to Arizona to face trial at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh last month.

    But the pair returned to the same court to successfully apply for leave to take their case to the London court.

    Defence counsel Chris Shead, for Mrs Howes, told Lord Mackay, sitting with Lord Bonomy and Lord Osborne, that an English case involving parents facing extradition has already been referred to the Supreme Court.

    He said that the Howes' case was an "anxious" one and added: "Her health is under significant pressure while in custody."

    Lord Mackay said the judges would allow leave to appeal on issues relating to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, governing the right to family life, which had arisen during the Scottish proceedings.

    The American authorities requested the extradition of the Howes, of Bo'ness, West Lothian, in 2006 although they maintain they ran a legitimate business and have fought a lengthy battle through the courts to stop the move.

    The Americans allege that they sold chemicals to customers in the United States through the internet knowing that they would be used to make methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth.

    About 296 kilos of red phosphorous and 44 kilos of iodine are said to have been sold to at least 70 crystal meth labs which could have produced 1330 pounds of the Class A drug with a street value of $13.3 million.

    During their earlier unsuccessful appeal Lord Reed said that since the case was initially dealt with by a sheriff in 2008 there had been "material developments" which had to be taken into account in deciding whether sending them to America would be compatible with their ECHR rights.

    He said: "First and most importantly two further children have been born. The fact that she has borne two children and undergone a third pregnancy within such a short period, despite medical advice about the risks to her health, may lead to a suspicion that she and her husband saw this as a way of strengthening their arguments against extradition."

    "The conception of children at a time when their parents were a risk of extradition to the United States and possible detention there might in any event be regarded as irresponsible," he said.

    Lord Reed said it had to be recognised that the family life of Mrs Howes and children would inevitably be disrupted by extradition and it might be severe, with both parents being sent to America making it worse.

    But he said they also had to consider the seriously damaging consequences for the public interest in the prevention of crime if an accused with dependent family was rendered immune from extradition to go trial "for very serious wrongdoing".

    He pointed out that if she was alleged to have committed similar offences in Britain " she would undoubtedly be prosecuted notwithstanding the possibility that, if convicted, she might be separated from her children for a prolonged period".

    Judges are expected to decided tomorrow if the Howes will be freed on interim liberation pending the hearing of their appeal to the Supreme Court.

    They were told that a friend of the family was currently looking after the children in a temporary arrangement.

    News Desk
    Edinburgh Evening News 11th Aug 2011
  11. source
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    U.K. Defendant Sentenced for Illegal Chemical Distribution via Internet

    Defendant extradited from the U.K. to face U.S. charges

    [imgl=white][/imgl]MAY 16 (PHOENIX) – On May 14, 2013, Brian Howes, 49, of Bo’Ness, Falkirk, Scotland, United Kingdom, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reade to 70 months incarceration, three years supervised release, and a $1,000 special assessment. Howes pleaded guilty on Feb. 4, 2013, to ten separate counts of distributing a listed chemical (Red Phosphorus) while knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance (methamphetamine).

    “Methamphetamine addiction destroys those who use it and devastates those around them, and Brian Howes was responsible for illegally shipping large quantities of chemicals needed to manufacture this dangerous drug into our country,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “While today we have put an important global drug trafficker out of business and behind bars, this sentencing is but a small victory in our continuing fight against methamphetamine and those who facilitate its production. We must remain vigilant in enforcing our drug laws and bringing to justice those like Mr. Howes who seek to harm us and threaten our society.”

    “HSI and our law enforcement partners, both in the U.S. and abroad, are fully committed to stopping dangerous drugs and their precursor chemicals destined for the streets of our communities,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. “Today’s sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who would attempt to profit by peddling this poison--we will use every resource at our disposal to investigate and bring these cases to justice.”

    “This was an international case that directly involved the members of our community,” said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia. “State and federal authorities have worked to stop the clandestine manufacture of illegal drugs through legislation and enforcement. Working together as a team, local, county, state, federal and international law enforcement officials successfully stopped this individual who was attempting to circumvent our laws.”

    Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose agency actually began this investigation says, “The tenacity of the Sheriff’s Office resulted in uncovering this supplier of chemicals to meth labs throughout the world. Howes’ arrest and conviction is the result of a joint effort between local, federal and international law enforcement authorities. But I was amused years ago by his vocal and public outcry when Howes begged authorities in Great Britain not to extradite him to my jails saying it would be too hard on him here. It was theatrics only for Howes was never coming to the Maricopa County Jail.”

    Howes was the founder, owner, and manager of Internet-based chemical companies doing business as Hyder Business Services Limited, Raw Chemicals International, and Lab Chemicals Supplies. These chemical companies advertised chemicals for sale via the Internet website “” Through the KNO3 website, the companies solicited purchases of chemicals throughout the world, including the United States. The companies advertised the sale of Red Phosphorus, a List I chemical, and Iodine, a List II chemical, under U.S. laws. Howes established a website-based ordering system through which potential customers, including U.S. purchasers, completed order forms via the Internet to purchase chemicals. Howes fulfilled customers’ orders for chemicals and arranged shipment of the chemicals to customers via parcel delivery service.

    On or about Aug. 4, 2005, law enforcement officers in California sent an email to the KNO3 website informing its members that a 500-gram container of Iodine crystals bearing the label “Hyder Business Services, Ltd.” had been discovered at a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory in Southern California, and that Iodine was regulated in the United States. On or about June 24, 2006, Cleveland, Middlesbrough, England, police officers interviewed Howes in conjunction with a search of Howes’ businesses. During the interview, Howes indicated that he was aware that Red Phosphorus and Iodine were two chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine. The officers informed Howes that it was unlawful to sell Red Phosphorus in the United States without written consent from the appropriate licensing U.S. entity.

    Although Howes was aware that he was selling and delivering precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine to U.S. customers in violation of U.S. law, he continued the sale and shipment of the chemicals. During 2006 alone, Howes shipped Red Phosphorus to purchasers in the District of Arizona on ten occasions, including to Phoenix Police Department detectives posing as customers.

    The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations; the Phoenix Police Department; the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. U.S. authorities coordinated their investigation closely with the U.S. Embassy’s DEA London Country Office; the Metropolitan Police in London (Scotland Yard); the Cleveland Police in Middlesbrough, England; the Central Scotland Police; and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).The prosecution is being handled by William Bryan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

    DEA Website, 16th May 2013.
  12. Alfa
    Re: Couple face 98 years in US prison for internet sale of meth precursors

    Are the case documents public? I wonder if there are mention about the Hive, or the possibility of the Maricopa county clandestine meth lab task force running the and related websites as a sting op for some time / years. There have been some strong rumors about this.
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