Pharmacy worker, 40, who sold £2million worth of prescription medication to drug dealers is jailed for six years
- David Ihenagwa, 40, used his position to supply the streets of London with meds
- Among his haul were 356,000 highly addictive Class B codeine tablets
- Users suffer horrific withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, tremors, vomiting and suicidal thoughts
Married father-of-three Ihenagwa was described as the ‘lynchpin’ of an operation exploiting a trend among young people to dabble in prescription-only medication
A pharmacy worker who sold prescription medication worth more than £2million to drug dealers was yesterday jailed for six years.
David Ihenagwa, 40, used his position as a medicines purchaser at his mother’s ‘respected’ high street pharmacy to buy more than 1.65 million highly-addictive Class B and Class C pills.
His buyers collected the painkillers and sleeping pills by the van-load and paid in cash.
Married father-of-three Ihenagwa was described as the ‘lynchpin’ of an operation exploiting a trend among young people to dabble in prescription-only medication.
His conviction is the first following a crackdown by the government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency [MHRA].
In 2018 the Daily Mail told how pharmacists and wholesalers were working with criminal gangs to sell dangerous drugs to youngsters. Last year, this newspaper revealed that 50 pharmacies across Britain were under investigation and 86 people, including 14 pharmacists, had been arrested. Croydon Crown Court heard yesterday how Ihenagwa purchased pills to sell to a mystery third party who picked them from Norlington Chemist in east London.
Over eight months to April 2016, Ihenagwa, of Edmonton, north London, bought 356,000 Class B codeine phosphate tablets and at least 1.3 million Class C tablets including tramadol, diazepam, sleeping drug zopiclone and lorazepam.
All of the drugs are highly addictive, yet are sold on the streets or online for as little as £1 per pill. Users suffer horrific withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia, tremors, vomiting and suicidal thoughts.
An undated file photo of Croydon Crown Court. The court heard yesterday how Ihenagwa purchased pills to sell to a mystery third party who picked them from Norlington Chemist in east London
Ihenagwa’s criminality was exposed when an MHRA raid on an address in Stoke-on-Trent discovered 13,000 pills in a box with his pharmacy’s details.
Ihenagwa claimed that he had been approached by an unnamed ‘third party’, who said they needed to buy medication for troops in Africa and Iran.
He said he believed the buyers were ‘bona fide’, but there is no paper trail and Ihenagwa has declined to identify them.
A 2013 photograph shows a packet of highly addictive Codeine Phosphate, which Ihenagwa bought by the truck-load during a one-year period
Ihenagwa claimed he only sold drugs worth £70,000 and made a 20 per cent profit. But the MHRA valued the street value of the drugs at £2.2million.
Defending Ihenagwa, John Benson QC said: ‘This was a very unsophisticated way of going about what was unquestionably illegal activity.’
Ihenagwa admitted one count of supplying a Class B drug and four of supplying Class C controlled drugs.
Sentencing him to six years in prison Judge Daniel Flahive said: ‘You were the lynchpin, the conduit, without whom the drugs would not have ended up in the hands of those who were not authorised to have them.’
The MHRA said: ‘Those who sell medicines illegally are exploiting vulnerable people and have no regard for their health.’