Jailed: Silvertown man in Brazilian crime gang with £2.2m of 'chemsex’ drug

Bottles containing about 2,600 litres of the drug GBL,

Bottles containing about 2,600 litres of the drug GBL, which were seized by police. - Credit: Met Police

A Silvertown member of a Brazilian crime gang has been jailed after police seized about £2.2m worth of "chemsex" drug GBL.

Henrique Bernardo Medina Salles, of Starboard Way, is one of six people who have been jailed after Met Police shut down a network of criminals who supplied drugs across London.

During the operation, detectives recovered more than 2,000 litres of GBL - believed to be the largest quantity of the drug seized in the UK and which is allegedly used during sexual activities.

Brazilian national Henrique Bernardo Medina Salles, 27, of Starboard Way, Silvertown

Brazilian national Henrique Bernardo Medina Salles, 27, of Starboard Way, Silvertown, was jailed for eight years. - Credit: Met Police

Four members of the organised crime network (OCN), who were making millions of pounds from their activities, were sentenced on March 24 and 25 at Inner London Crown Court.

They had been found guilty of 14 counts of conspiracy to supply or offer to supply class A, B and C drugs on March 20 last year after an eight-week trial at the same court, and were remanded in custody while they awaited sentencing. 

Among them was Salles, 27, who was jailed for eight years.

Two other people were sentenced last year.

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Det Con Gary Smith, from the specialist crime command, said: “These men and women were supplying dangerous drugs to vulnerable people who often didn’t know what they were taking.

“They lived a lucrative lifestyle, paying £12,500 in rent for a property in St George’s Hill in Weybridge and driving around in a flamboyant orange Lamborghini. Their lives will now dramatically change as they spend many years in prison.

“Drugs can cause significant and life-altering harm, have a horrendously negative physical and mental impact on users and this gang were making huge profits whilst potentially destroying lives.” 

The court heard how the network of Brazilian nationals were involved in providing drugs to order, largely to the "chemsex" scene.

The enterprise was, in effect, a high-tech drugs delivery service operating from various locations in London and, for a short while, in Bristol. It ran from June 2016 until arrests were made on July 31, 2018.

Salles was a “trusted lieutenant” of those at the top of the OCN and handled the day-to-day running of the drug network. 

Various items that were used by the organised crime network. 

Various items seized by police that were used by the organised crime network. - Credit: Met Police

Police began their investigation in March 2018 when they received information about a phone line being used by the group.

After customers made their choices from a menu, they would place orders for drugs including GBL, methylamphetamine, cocaine, ketamine, heroin and cannabis on a dedicated number.

Customers could then expect a rapid delivery by a moped or motorbike courier, who would exchange an innocent-looking package - often disguised as a legitimate delivery - for cash.

Drugs were supplied from temporary accommodation booked for short periods of time, generally not for longer than a week.

The network also had temporary offices simply called A, B and C, which were stocked from various London self-storage facilities, with suitcases used for rapid movement of the drugs along with the necessary items to prepare them for sale.

Between January and July 2018, the OCN operated from 26 different addresses, used five storage facilities and employed about 30 moped couriers working six days a week.

Police made a series of arrests in Newham and Wandsworth between July 25 and August 20, 2018.

Salles, who was linked to the gang through police surveillance, was arrested in Wesley Avenue, Royal Docks on August 20 that year in a white van coming from Stanstead Airport.

Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, GBL and cannabis worth about £3 million was seized following searches at five different storage facilities across London.

The investigation established that the gang sold more than £2.5 million worth of drugs.

Insp Allen Davis, from the Met’s honour, belief and sex (crime and vulnerability) partnership team, said: “The drugs of choice predominantly but not exclusively used in the chemsex context are crystal methamphetamine, mephedrone and GHB or GBL [known as 'G'].

“With GBL there is also a significant risk of overdose, which can result in death.

“The effects of the drugs used also promote extreme behaviours leading to vulnerability and exploitation; the use affects memory recall and results in evidential difficulties and barriers to reporting, attracting perpetrators to the scene as a result.”