Businessman made millions from illegal steroids trade

A BUSINESSMAN lived the high life running an illegal international operation importing millions of pounds' worth of human growth hormones and steroids into the UK , mainly for the bodybuilding market, a court heard.

Over a five-year period from 2004 it was estimated the turnover of the operation run by Nicholas Aristotelous and others was around 5m.

"The profit from the enterprise is therefore in the region of 2.9m," Peter Moulson prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

Aristotelous travelled first class by plane and air, staying in the best hotels and eating in the finest restaurants.

None of those involved were authorised or registered with the General Medical Council or relevant pharmacological bodies to import or sell any of the products involved, which also included Viagara-type drugs.

Mr Moulson said that according to the UK Medicines Control Agency the dangers associated with their unlicensed and unregulated distribution included serious side effects in the case of the prescription-only drug Kamagra that could include angina, heart attack and possible blindness.

Another drug involved, Tamoxifen, could cause blood disorder and life threatening illnesses such as pancreatitis, thrombo-embolism and cancer.

"It in common with the other Class C drugs must only be used under close supervision by specialist physicians," Mr Moulson said.

Aristotelous, 40, of Roker Lane, Pudsey, Leeds, was jailed for seven years after admitting conspiracy to contravene customs restrictions, possessing drugs with intent and transferring criminal property.

Judge Christopher Batty told him "What you were dealing in was potentially lethal drugs, you had no idea where they were going or who would be taking them."

Mr Moulson said in 2008 inquiries revealed large sums were being transferred from the UK to countries including India, China and Pakistan, for steroids, human growth hormones and other class C drugs, packages then being sent to mailboxes in the north of England.

It turned out that Aristotelous ran several of the companies involved sending orders via e-mail.

He had transferred more than 570,000 in cash to those suppliers and on occasions also travelled abroad himself to hand funds over.

He had mailing addresses set up in Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, York, Manchester and Sheffield and later in the conspiracy recruited a number of "foot soldiers" to handle the transfers or receive packages.

When arrested in 2008 a total of 193,662 tablets were seized from his home with bottles stamped Multivitamin. They turned out to be class C Diazepam.

Following his arrest he continued with his enterprise, recruiting Ben Womack and establishing more mailbox addresses in blatant disregard of the law as Womack transferred more than 800,000.

Womack, 33, of New Street, Broadbottom, Hyde, Cheshire was jailed for four years after he admitted the conspiracy, transferring criminal property and being concerned in the supply of an anabolic steroid Methandionene.

Andrew Abbott, 45 of Daleside Road, Pudsey, was jailed for 18 months after a jury convicted him of the conspiracy and transferring criminal property.

Robert Scott, 43 of Cranmer Bank, Moortown, Leeds, was jailed for 12 months, suspended for 18 months, with 240 hours unpaid work, after he admitted conspiracy and transferring criminal property.

Paul Crabb, 36, of Pavilion Gardens, Farsley, Leeds who was convicted by a jury of transferring criminal property, was given six months in jail suspended for 18 months with 200 hours unpaid work.