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London Underground busted: Legal High Millionaires were largest ecstasy ring

By Alfa, Dec 25, 2011 | | |
  1. Alfa
    Ecstasy drug raid nets businessmen

    A millionaire businessman is among 19 people arrested after a covert investigation targeting a criminal syndicate allegedly making and selling thousands of Ecstasy pills every week.

    Confidential police information was also allegedly leaked to members of the group.

    About $14 million worth of assets were seized yesterday in raids.

    They included multimillion-dollar homes, expensive cars such as Bentleys, BMWs and Range Rovers, jet skis, a boat and pill presses.

    The seizures followed a 12-month inquiry into the manufacture, supply and distribution of Class B and C drugs.

    Detectives say the syndicate was the biggest player in the underground pill market and sold tens of thousands of tablets - which fetch at least $40 each - a week.

    More than 200 police officers executed search warrants at 45 addresses throughout Auckland.

    The armed offenders squad was called to two properties.

    Fourteen of the 19 arrested appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday afternoon charged with drug-related offences, including the manufacture and sale of MDMA - the Class-B drug known as Ecstasy - and analogues such as 4-MEC and 4-MMC.

    The other five defendants will appear today.

    At the centre of the inquiry is the 37-year-old company director who has name suppression to protect the reputation of his business and lucrative overseas contracts. His $3 million property has been seized.

    A 30-year-old staff member of the company also has name suppression, as do a 30-year-old hairdresser and her husband.

    A 35-year-old from Meadowbank and a 58-year-old from Remuera had their names and occupations suppressed.

    All but one of the 14 accused was granted bail- Stanley Marshall Alphonsus Leone was recalled to prison.

    The 30-year-old faces four charges of manufacture, supply and selling Class B and Class C drugs.

    Others who can be named include Johnny Be Good, 35, Rangimarie Kemp, 27, Grant Oswald Petersen, 25, Kevin Sean Challis, 32, Shalendra Singh, 32, Kelvin Sonny Cress, 33, and Brendan Nguyen, 32.

    While some of the accused are millionaires, Petersen is a disc jockey, Kemp is a road worker and Challis is a painter.

    Nguyen faces 28 charges, including attempting to pervert the course of justice by providing police information to two co-accused.

    He is also charged with conspiring with Allen Bryan Cho to supply methamphetamine.

    Singh faces 27 charges, including supplying methamphetamine and money laundering more than $100,000 through a bank account connected to Cho.

    The head of the Auckland metro drug squad, Detective Inspector Bruce Good, said the syndicate was responsible for the bulk of Ecstasy manufacturing and supply in New Zealand, which involved tens of thousands of pills a week. He said Ecstasy sold for at least $40 a pill.

    "What is also of concern is that many of the pills or tablets seized comprise various mixtures of compounds, the effects of which when consumed could be fatal. Some were being manufactured on premises where rat poison was also made."

    Police found eight pill presses in Onehunga, Albany and Highbrook, as well as kilos of compound ready to be pressed and tens of thousands of pills.


    Police are hunting for Allen Bryan Cho in connection with their 12-month investigation into the manufacture, supply and distribution of Ecstasy and Class-C analogues.

    The 36-year-old lives at the Hobson Garden Apartments in Hobson St, central Auckland, and police are concerned he may try to obtain false documentation to flee the country.

    Anyone with information should contact Detective Sergeant Lloyd Schmid on 0274-746-663 or call Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.

    By Jared Savage and Isaac Davison


  1. Alfa
    Ecstasy ring 'passed police secrets'

    Confidential intelligence was allegedly leaked by two police staff to people accused of running the country's largest Ecstasy ring.

    Name and occupation suppression for Timothy John Russell Sarah and Darren Ian Hodgetts was lifted in the Auckland District Court yesterday after the pair decided against trying to keep their identities secret.

    The non-sworn police staff were among the 22 people arrested in Operation Ark last month, a 12-month investigation targeting the manufacture and supply of Class-B drugs MDMA, or Ecstasy, and Class-C drugs such as 4-MEC, better known as mephedrone.

    Both have been suspended pending an internal employment process.

    A lawyer by profession, Sarah, 36, was a police prosecutor in the Auckland District Court and played rugby for the New Zealand police team.

    He faces 20 charges including the possession and supply of methamphetamine and Ecstasy, participating in an organised criminal group and passing information from the police computer system to three co-accused.

    They are Brendan Nguyen, 32, Allen Bryan Cho, 37, and a company director, 36, who has name suppression.

    Nguyen faces 28 charges including supplying Class-B and selling Class-C drugs, perverting the course of justice and conspiring to supply methamphetamine with Cho and Sarah.

    Cho, who also appeared in court yesterday, faces charges of laundering $317,000 and supplying Class-C drugs, Ecstasy, methamphetamine and cocaine.

    Hodgetts, 34, was a traffic officer based near the Auckland Harbour Bridge and has previously worked for the Fire Service, St John ambulance and Surf Lifesaving New Zealand.

    He faces charges of participating in an organised criminal group, accessing the police national intelligence application and wilfully perverting the course of justice by leaking police information to co-accused.

    One of those men is Shalendra Singh, 32, who faces 27 charges including supplying methamphetamine and laundering more than $100,000 through a bank account connected to Allen Cho.

    While Sarah and Hodgetts decided against trying to keep name suppression, seven Operation Ark co-accused are fighting to keep their identities secret.

    The Crown and the Herald will oppose the suppression at a hearing on December 19.

    Auckland metro drug squad head Detective Inspector Bruce Good said the syndicate was believed to be responsible for most Ecstasy manufacture and supply in this country, selling thousands of tablets a week.

    The ring has also been linked to tablets at Fairfield College in Hamilton, where six students were taken to hospital last month after swallowing what they thought were lollies.

    ESR has confirmed the tablets were Class-C drugs.

    One of their mothers has been charged.

    About $14 million of assets were seized in the raids in November, including homes worth millions of dollars, up to $1 million in cash, and luxury cars.

    The Crown started civil proceedings in the High Court at Auckland yesterday to restrain the assets.
    View attachment 23788
    By Jared Savage

  2. catseye
    interesting story - I had no idea that name/occupation suppression was an option for adults placed under arrest.
  3. timkanu
    IS this the London underground comapny that sell "legal" highs in the UK ? IS it the same company?

    So their party pills that are sold at head shops and on line actually contain MDMA and still contain 4mec and 4mmc after the ban was imposed.

    How on earth did they ever think they would get away with it ??

    So they were selling illegal drugs as bath salts in head shops and online trying to make out they were legal highs ? Wow they were a well known legal high company, surely they would know someone would test their pills and then come after them ??

    Or were their "legal" pills legitimate and they were just pressing MDMA pills and selling to dealers on the side ?
  4. Alfa
    This seems to be the case.

    IIRC, quite a few years ago they were heavily promoting / pushing cheap BZP pills with ecstasy logos pressed into those. Sales were per 1000, and obviously targeted low level dealers around the world. Their promotion resulted in a flood of spam here and headshops around the world reported spam by fax offers. This was when the ecstasy market did not have BZP pollution yet. It started back then. Now about half of the ecstasy pills are polluted with piperazines, so the impact of their products has been significant. I dont know if (until the bust) London Underground still was the/a source of piperazine polluted ecstasy, but after reading these articles, it seems possible.
  5. timkanu
    Oh dear.

    It just smaks of pure greed in the end then. Im sure their legitimate legal high business was a good money maker on its own.

    But they wanted more so were pressing pills containing illegal substances to sell to the underground on the black market.

    Some of their legal pills pre cathinone ban were top notch, i will remember them for that.

    Good ridence to them if they were the main contributeers of the BZP infested extacy pill market though.
  6. Exitlude
    London Underground are a little dissassociated from the rest of the legal high industry in New Zealand, for example they were not a member of the (now defunct) peak body. The people associated with importing and distributing the "Kronic" brand of synthetic cannabis were the ones that pushed BZP, principally Matt Bowden among others.

    It's all starting to come unravelled as the NZ police realize that legal highs are a great cover for illegal highs. For instance a few months back the director of a legal highs import/distribution company was arrested for orchestrating a large methamphetamine operation - http://www.nzherald.co.nz/drug-abuse/news/article.cfm?c_id=181&objectid=10757829. Again the company was distanced from the rest of the industry, not participating in the peak body. Once the vitamin and supplement companies get the spotlight shone on them it will become really interesting.

    The companies that are involved in the illegal side are fairly easy to identify, they don't innovate or agressively market their legal products because they don't need to. When the law changes came into effect in 2011 the ministry of health and police were watching closely and picked up on what was really going on. I believe there will be more investigations, arrests and media releases to come, there's a hell of a lot more dirt to be dug.

    On a sidenote this is interesting. There have been several other mother and son or other family-run operations in the legal high industry in New Zealand. For instance synthetic cannabis was first sold in NZ by a company with two directors, a young man and his mother - that went on to be the most successful brand.
  7. Alfa
    The news report is about ephedrine and could easily turn out to be ephedra, which was a legal high. Are you certain that this is amphetamine related?
  8. Euphoric
    I didn't see the name London Underground mentioned in either story. How do we know this story refers to that business?
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