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Gang jailed for selling drugs ‘linked to over 125 deaths’ on the dark web

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Three men who used the dark web to sell drugs ‘linked to over 125 deaths’ in the UK have been jailed for a total of more than 40 years.

Jake Levene, 23, Lee Childs, 45, and Mandy Lowther, 22, set up a business titled ‘UKBargins’ importing and exporting fentanyl and one of its analogues, carfentanyl.

They feared to have left behind an ‘unsolvable’ death toll as they raked in £163,474 in just five months.

CAPTION CORRECTION CORRECTING LEFT TO RIGHT CORRECT CAPTION BELOW BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout photos issued by the National Crime Agency (NCA) of (left to right) Jake Levene, 23, and Mandy Lowther, 22, who have been jailed for 16-and-a-half years each, and Lee Childs, 45, who was handed a 10-and-a-half-year jail term at Leeds Crown Court, after the trio ran a dark web business selling the potentially lethal drug fentanyl to customers across the world, having admitted supplying and exporting Class A drugs between December 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Jake Levene, 23, and Mandy Lowther, 22, have been jailed for 16 years each, while Lee Childs, 45, was given a 10 years (Picture: PA)

The class A drug, which is prescribed for severe pain relief, can be fatal in doses as small as 0.002g, a court heard, and the gang harvested enough to kill millions while ranking in £8,000 a week.

Handout videograb taken from police bodycam footage issued by Durham Police of firearms officers approaching the vehicle immediately after shooting Sam Houlihan, who had raised a replica gun at police. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. See PA story COURTS Bishop. Photo credit should read: Durham Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Moment police shoot man who swigged whisky and pulled out air gun

Gary Edward’s family is among those who have been told their loved one is ‘highly likely’ to have been killed by fentanyl produced in the gang’s lab, according to the Sun.

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His mum Debbie said: ‘Those three are killers in my eyes. They knew what they were producing and they still sent it out into the world.

‘They might as well have stood on a roof with a machine gun.

Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of the unit where Jake Levene, Lee Childs and Mandy Lowther mixed their drugs PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowthe (Picture: PA)

‘They were hidden in that lock-up secretly killing people. They never saw the lives taken, the ruined lives of people left behind – mother and children.’

Figures show an increase of 75 deaths in the area in 2017. The trio sent out over 2,800 packages.

Charlton Livick also died after buying carfentanyl from the dark web in March 2017.

It has never been proved that the lethal dose was supplied by the gang, but his mother Kathy Livick, 62, told how she will live with the pain of his death ‘until I meet my end’.

Prior to the sentencing, she said: ‘All I want is my son back, and I can’t have that, but it’s good to see some justice done.’

Undated family handout photo of Charlton Livick, known by friends as Charlie, who was just 33 when his mother Kathy, 62 found him dead in March 2017, having purchased drugs from the dark web. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. He bought drugs from a business run by Lee Childs, Jake Levene and Mandy Lowther who have been jailed for selling drugs such as fentanyl and the much stronger carfentanyl. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl Charlie. Photo credit should read: Kathy Livick/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Charlton ‘Charlie’ Livick died of fentanyl related injures after buying the drug on the dark web (Picture: PA)
Kathy Livick, 62, who has said she wakes up every day in pain following the death of her son Charlton at the age of 33. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday January 18, 2019. He bought drugs from a business run by Lee Childs, Jake Levene and Mandy Lowther who have been jailed for selling drugs such as fentanyl and the much stronger carfentanyl. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl Charlie. Photo credit should read: Henry Clare/PA Wire
Kathy Livick, 62, said she wanted justice (Picture: PA)

The brazen trio operated their business from a rented industrial unit under a fake name where they mixed the drugs with bulking agents and packaged them for posting.

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‘Highly intelligent’ Levene jointly controlled the premises in Leeds, along with amateur boxer Lowther while Childs was responsible for posting packages of drugs to customers.

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The drugs were posted to customers throughout the UK as well as the US, Germany, Norway, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, Singapore, Holland and Spain.

But the organised crime gang were apprehended two months later in April 2017 following a police raid in what is believed to be the largest single seizure of the drugs in Europe.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout photos issued by the National Crime Agency (NCA) of (left to right)Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of Jake Levene, Lee Childs and Mandy Lowther buying equipment for use in mixing their drugs. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Jake, Childs and Lowther pictured buying equipment for use in mixing their drugs (Picture: PA)
Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of Lee Childs posting packages of drugs through the mail. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
CCTV of Childs posting packages of drugs through the mail (Picture: PA)

Officers discovered at least 635g of pure carfentanyl – which is generally used to anaesthetise elephants and polar bears and thought to be 3,000-5,000 times stronger than heroin.

An exact measurement of the quantity could not be provided as forensic scientists thought the drug was too dangerous to handle.

Police also found a quarter of a kilogram of fentanyl which is believed to be 50 times stronger than heroin.

A recovered laptop belonging to Levene, who was a top of class student at school, also showed 2,853 sales to 443 customers worldwide, with 172 in the UK for a total of £163,474.

The trio pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to evade the prohibition on the exportation of a controlled Class A drug and two counts of conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of class A.

Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of the unit where Jake Levene, Lee Childs and Mandy Lowther mixed their drugs. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
The unit they used to mix the drugs (Picture: PA)
Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of the unit where Jake Levene, Lee Childs and Mandy Lowther mixed their drugs. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Officers raided the unit (Picture: PA)

Levene, who previously started a university degree in aero-engineering at Sheffield University, and Lowther were each given a 16-and-a-half-year sentence.

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Co-accused Childs was handed a sentence of 10-and-a-half-years at Leeds Crown Court.

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Post-mortem results indicate that 125 drug-related deaths in the UK are known to be linked to fentanyl or one of its analogues, including carfentanyl.

The majority of these deaths occurred before mid-2017, though cases have continued into 2018.

Sentencing the trio, Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said: ‘When it comes to Class A drugs the courts are very familiar with heroin, crack, crack cocaine and so forth.

Undated handout photo issued by the National Crime Agency of the unit where Jake Levene, Lee Childs and Mandy Lowther mixed their drugs. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday January 18, 2019. According to the NCA, six people from their 443-strong customer list died from fentanyl-related injuries, although it could not be proved that the final, lethal doses were supplied by Levene, Childs and Lowther, they have been all jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday. See PA story COURTS Fentanyl. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
They raked in £163,474 in just five months (Picture: PA)

‘We see that everyday of the week in these courts so anyone who is involved in distribution of drugs can expect higher sentences.

‘It’s not just those who are addicted to drugs who suffer misery but also society at large.

‘This was a sophisticated operation, small I accept but nevertheless sophisticated.

‘One only has to look what the officers found when they raided the unit. There were specific areas set aside for specific tasks to be performed.

‘Given the potency of the drugs in question, it’s a different breed to heroin.’

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