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Businessman who imported 100 gallons of lethal date rape drug GBL is jailed for 11 years in landmark case


A drug dealer who imported over 100 gallons of lethal date rape drug GBL has been jailed for 11 years. 

Afshin Alikhani, 43, was caught after he was kept under surveillance in a four-year police sting and investigation.

The drugs baron imported around £500,000 worth of illegal substances using a cleaning company as a front for his criminal activity. 

Detectives found messages on his phone showing his planned distributions to buyers and recovered £30,000 in cash from his home in Abbey Road, south Hampstead.

GBL is the liquid form of GHB, which is the substance serial killer Stephen Port used to drug and murder his four victims. In 2022 GBL was reclassified from a Class C to a Class B drug acknowledging its use in crime.

Afshin Alikhani, 43, was jailed for 11 years after he was caught importing over 100 gallons of the lethal date rape drug GBL

Afshin Alikhani, 43, was jailed for 11 years after he was caught importing over 100 gallons of the lethal date rape drug GBL

GBL is often sold in the form of industrial solvents, stain removers, rust removers and paint strippers

GBL is often sold in the form of industrial solvents, stain removers, rust removers and paint strippers

Stephen Port used the drug GBH to murder his four victims June 2014 and September 2015

Stephen Port used the drug GBH to murder his four victims June 2014 and September 2015

During his trial at Harrow Crown Court last July Alikhani denied his involvement in the offences claiming he imported the drugs as part of his work for the cleaning company.

What is gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL)?  

GBL – gamma butyrolactone – is sold in a liquid form and once in the body it rapidly turns into the date-rape drug GHB.

It has a similar mood-altering effect to ecstasy and has been nicknamed ‘coma in a bottle’ due to its potency.

GHB has been a Class C drug since 2003. Although GBL is used legally in industry, it has also been a Class C drug since 2009.

Possessing GBL knowing it will be used as a drug carries a jail sentence of up to four years, or 14 years if you supply it to someone else.

GHB was used by serial rapist Reynhard Sinaga, 36, to knock out at least 200 men after which he would then film the attacks on his mobile phone.

He was jailed for 60 years in 2020 and must serve a minimum of 30 years in custody before he can be considered for parole.

Stephen Port, 47, used lethal doses of GHB to kill Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25 between June 2014 and September 2015.

He was sentenced to a whole-life order at the Old Bailey in 2016.

He said the messages recovered from his phone showing him offering and delivering crystal meth had been sent by someone else.

Alikhani’s operation unravelled when a French border official found a box of GBL bottles destined for his storage unit in April 2020. 

More drugs parcels were stopped at Birmingham Airport by Border Force in October that year. 

Then a November police raid on the Big Yellow storage unit, off the A406 near Brent Cross, found 258 litres of GBL, £31,000 in cash, and jelly containing Viagra.

Another 90 litres were delivered to the storage unit the next day and they were also seized. Then police were led to a Safestore locker with another 90 litres of GBL and hotplates with traces of crystal meth.

Alikhani was arrested in November 2020, when more bottles of GBL were found in his Honda Civic car along with a package of crystal meth in his tool box. 

Three phones were also seized which contained messages about meetings and offers to supply drugs including GBL and crystal meth.

Judge Vanessa Francis told the court: ‘One explanation was the GBL had been imported for supplying as a legitimate industrial cleaner. 

‘You said the crystal meth in your car had been sold as an antihistamine for your dog and it had ended up in the tool box after you used it,’ recalled.

Alikhani also claimed his drug supply texts were sent by someone else, and the ones he could not deny sending were to ‘help a friend with a business selling herbs and herbal remedies’. 

He also told investigators the profits from his drug business was money from Covid bounce-back loans.

Harrow Crown Court, where Alikhani appeared for his trial in July last year

Harrow Crown Court, where Alikhani appeared for his trial in July last year

Defence counsel for Alikhani stressed he did not realise the harmful effects of GHB, which expert witnesses said is easy to overdose on, and would have been opposed to selling a drug if he knew it was dangerous like heroin. 

‘It’s something he deeply regrets and it’s something he realises now, the significant impact on the public,’ she added.

In total around 580 litres of GBL was seized – an ‘extreme amount of drugs, an industrial amount of drugs’, according to Judge Francis. She also noted Alikhani had previous convictions for drugs offences.

Going beyond the guidelines, due to the scale of the operation, Judge Francis jailed Alikhani to 11 years on three counts of possession with intent to supply of GBL, to run concurrently.

She gave another 11 years concurrent for three more counts of fraudulent evasion of prohibition, four years concurrent for being concerned in the supply of meth, and 12 months concurrent for possessing criminal property. 

Alikhani is also subject to POCA proceedings and a five-year Serious Crime Prevention Order to stop him returning to the trade after he is released.

Detective Sergeant Isabella Grotto said: ‘Alikhani’s conviction is a signal to others that the supply of this drug is taken extremely seriously, and we will pursue those who distribute GBL to Londoners.

‘We worked long and hard with multiple different teams and gathered expert advice from specialists to ensure we could prove the seriousness of the importation of this drug and its detrimental impact on victims.

‘I am proud of everyone who worked on this case and I am confident that we will continue to see more cases like this, with longer sentences as the dangers of GBL are recognised.’

Reynhard Sinaga, 36, who used GHB to knock out at least 200 men

Reynhard Sinaga, 36, who used GHB to knock out at least 200 men

The senior investigating officer overseeing the case, Detective Inspector Louise Houtmeyers, said: ‘This is a first of its kind case for the Met.

‘Alikhani was not only importing this dangerous drug, but was attempting to distribute a huge volume to victims across London – he intended to profit off an extremely harmful and illegal substance.

‘GBL is highly addictive and can be fatal. There is an emerging trend of this drug being used more frequently, particularly by men who have sex with men, and during chemsex.

‘This is often deemed a taboo subject, but this conviction is about raising awareness of the impact of GBL and its associated dangers, not criminalising or ostracising people who might be using it.

‘We are determined to protect all London communities and believe the sentencing demonstrates the seriousness and potential harm 500 litres of GBL could have had.

‘This case is particularly significant as it sets a precedent for future UK court cases for those who are intent on distributing this dangerous drug – they will face lengthy sentencing and we will pursue offenders.’



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