Importer of harmful drug associated with sex gets 11-year jail sentence

A lengthy Met investigation has led to man being jailed for 11 years for GBL drug offences.

Afshin Alikhani, 43, of Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for offences including importing more than 500 litres of the drug GBL (gamma-Butyrolactone) in a landmark case at the Old Bailey.

This is the first time the category of harm posed by GBL has been recognised in a court of law.

Alikhani was initially arrested following a surveillance operation in 2020, where Met officers carefully investigated his importation and distribution of industrial quantities of GBL.

When searching his property, officers found messages on his phone showing his planned distributions to buyers, recovered £30,000 in cash and found traces of crystal meth.

Over four years, specialist Met teams with extensive knowledge on drugs supply, worked with forensic toxicologists to ensure Alikhani was held to account for bringing these dangerous substances into the UK.

Alikhani repeatedly denied involvement.

In 2022 GBL was reclassified from a Class C to a Class B drug. This reclassification acknowledged the harm GBL can cause with it being used to facilitate serious crimes including murder, rape, sexual assault and robbery.

Historically GBL had been difficult to prove as an illegal drug due to its use as an industrial solvent. When used recreationally, its addictive qualities and accessibility make it popular for enhancing sexual activities.

Incorrect dosage of the drug can be fatal, and it can be weaponised by perpetrators, leaving victims susceptible to sexual assault and rape.

Detective Sergeant Isabella Grotto, who led the case, 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.

“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.”

During the trial at Harrow Crown Court, at the end of July last year, Alikhani denied his involvement in the offences and stated that he imported the drugs as part of a legitimate cleaning company and that the messages recovered from his phone showing him offering and delivering crystal meth had been sent by someone else.

On August 4 last year a jury found Alikhani unanimously guilty on all counts of importation of class C drugs (GBL). Due to the legal complexity of estimating the category of harm of GBL, sentencing was adjourned until now at the Old Bailey.

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.”

Pictured top: Afshin Alikhani (Picture: The Met)




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