A drugs expert has told a crown court trial that some of the ingredients needed to produce amphetamine were found at a Sutton shop that was raided by police.
Steve Holme, an ex-drugs squad police officer who now advises Derbyshire Police on drugs issues, told Nottingham Crown Court that though not all of the equipment needed to create the Class B drug was found at the Protein Masters premises, he was confident that the location was used for ‘cutting’ the drug before it was sold on the street.
The court has been told that the King Street shop was a front for a multi-million pound drug operation which spread across the north of England.
After raiding it in July last year, police recovered around 30 litres of sulphuric acid, a large quantity of methanol and pH testers.
Under questioning from prosecutor Adrian Langdale QC, Mr Holme confirmed these are all needed during the process that turns amphetamine oil into amphetamine sulphate powder, though amphetamine oil was not found at the property.
In his experience, Mr Holme said these chemicals are of no use in the cutting process - in which the drug is mixed with other ingredients to make a larger, less pure, quantity prior to supplying it to dealers - with caffeine being the most commonly used cutting agent in amphetamine.
However, with no equipment such as flasks, beakers or a centrifuge and no amphetamine oil found at the property, it was accepted that amphetamine was not being produced at the shop at this time.
Amphetamine of varying levels of purity was recovered from Protein Masters which Mr Holme said indicated that the drug was at different stages of the cutting process.
Some higher purity amphetamine was found which he said was likely to be cut again before being sold.
Facing trial is Daniel Robinson (29), of Paling Crescent, Sutton, who denies producing amphetamine and supplying cocaine, but admits supplying amphetamine.
Alongside him is Craig Donnelly (23), of Peel Street, Sutton, who faces the same charges and entered the same pleas.
They were both arrested at Protein Masters after locking themselves in the premises, making it difficult for the police to gain entry.
During that time it is claimed that the pair tried to dispose of the drugs by flushing them down the toilet, but ended up blocking the drains.
Also on trial are: Anthony Donnelly (31), of Southwell Road West, Mansfield, who denies both producing and supplying amphetamine; Catherine Harpham (24), of Victoria Street, Sutton, who denies intending to supply cocaine and cannabis and Michael Lawrence (24), of the same address, who admits both charges.
In addition, Richard Tryner (45) of High Street, South Normanton, denies supplying amphetamine.
Three other defendants are also in the dock from Hull and Liverpool.
Those due to appear for sentencing at a later date includes Ben Mullins (33), of Market Street, South Normanton, who admits producing and supplying amphetamine, and supplying cocaine, Andrew Brimble (48), of Staffa Drive, Tibshelf, who admits supplying amphetamine, and Richie Fido (29), of no fixed address, who admits producing and supplying amphetamine.
Two other defendants from Manchester and Nottingham will also appear at a later date for sentencing on similar charges.
Defending Craig Donnelly. barrister Dominic Thomas asked Mr Holme if the ‘generals’ of a drug supply gang would order the ‘low downs’ to execute the cutting process, which he agreed was likely.
He also agreed that if Robinson and Craig Donnelly had been asked to produce 12kg of amphetamine paste, that was within the range that could have been cut at Protein Masters according to what had been recovered, while it is possible that they would have been paid for doing this by being given 1kg of amphetamine each to sell themselves.
When asked by Mr Langdale about the presence of methanol, sulphuric acid and pH testers, Mr Holme said in his experience, they were not associated with wetting of the amphetamine as part of the cutting process.
“It’s nothing to do with wetting. It’s the final stage of making amphetamine oil into amphetamine sulphate,” he said.
Mr Holme said that cannabis found at a house used by Harpham and Lawrence was likely to have come from a cannabis farm or been grown at that location ‘because of the stalks’ that were still attached.
“You don’t buy cannabis on stalks, you buy it when it has been stripped from the stalks,” he said.
He added that the 3kg of near-pure cocaine the couple were found with had ‘either come direct from somebody who has imported it into the country or it’s been imported into the country by this group’.
Once cut, it would have a street value of £600,000 and indicated a ‘wholesale supply’ of that drug.
Commenting on the 69kg of amphetamine recovered from a taxi by police in November 2013 which had a street value of £1.3m, Mr Holme said it was a ‘very large seizure’ and again indicated ‘wholesale’ amounts.
He said it was ‘as large [a seizure] as I am aware of in Derbyshire as long as I have been involved in drugs work,” he said.
The trial continues.