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U.K. Defendant Sentenced for Illegal Chemical Distribution via Internet

Defendant extradited from the U.K. to face U.S. charges

MAY 16 (PHOENIX) – On May 14, 2013, Brian Howes, 49, of Bo’Ness, Falkirk, Scotland, United Kingdom, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reade to 70 months incarceration, three years supervised release, and a $1,000 special assessment.  Howes pleaded guilty on Feb. 4, 2013, to ten separate counts of distributing a listed chemical (Red Phosphorus) while knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance (methamphetamine).

“Methamphetamine addiction destroys those who use it and devastates those around them, and Brian Howes was responsible for illegally shipping large quantities of chemicals needed to manufacture this dangerous drug into our country,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman. “While today we have put an important global drug trafficker out of business and behind bars, this sentencing is but a small victory in our continuing fight against methamphetamine and those who facilitate its production.  We must remain vigilant in enforcing our drug laws and bringing to justice those like Mr. Howes who seek to harm us and threaten our society.” 

“HSI and our law enforcement partners, both in the U.S. and abroad, are fully committed to stopping dangerous drugs and their precursor chemicals destined for the streets of our communities,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. “Today’s sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who would attempt to profit by peddling this poison--we will use every resource at our disposal to investigate and bring these cases to justice.”

“This was an international case that directly involved the members of our community,” said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia.  “State and federal authorities have worked to stop the clandestine manufacture of illegal drugs through legislation and enforcement.  Working together as a team, local, county, state, federal and international law enforcement officials successfully stopped this individual who was attempting to circumvent our laws.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose agency actually began this investigation says, “The tenacity of the Sheriff’s Office resulted in uncovering this supplier of chemicals to meth labs throughout the world. Howes’ arrest and conviction is the result of a joint effort between local, federal and international law enforcement authorities. But I was amused years ago by his vocal and public outcry when Howes begged authorities in Great Britain not to extradite him to my jails saying it would be too hard on him here. It was theatrics only for Howes was never coming to the Maricopa County Jail.”

Howes was the founder, owner, and manager of Internet-based chemical companies doing business as Hyder Business Services Limited, Raw Chemicals International, and Lab Chemicals Supplies.  These chemical companies advertised chemicals for sale via the Internet website “www.KNO3.com.”  Through the KNO3 website, the companies solicited purchases of chemicals throughout the world, including the United States.  The companies advertised the sale of Red Phosphorus, a List I chemical, and Iodine, a List II chemical, under U.S. laws.  Howes established a website-based ordering system through which potential customers, including U.S. purchasers, completed order forms via the Internet to purchase chemicals.  Howes fulfilled customers’ orders for chemicals and arranged shipment of the chemicals to customers via parcel delivery service.

 On or about Aug. 4, 2005, law enforcement officers in California sent an email to the KNO3 website informing its members that a 500-gram container of Iodine crystals bearing the label “Hyder Business Services, Ltd.” had been discovered at a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory in Southern California, and that Iodine was regulated in the United States.  On or about June 24, 2006, Cleveland, Middlesbrough, England, police officers interviewed Howes in conjunction with a search of Howes’ businesses.  During the interview, Howes indicated that he was aware that Red Phosphorus and Iodine were two chemicals needed to manufacture methamphetamine.  The officers informed Howes that it was unlawful to sell Red Phosphorus in the United States without written consent from the appropriate licensing U.S. entity.

Although Howes was aware that he was selling and delivering precursor chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine to U.S. customers in violation of U.S. law, he continued the sale and shipment of the chemicals.  During 2006 alone, Howes shipped Red Phosphorus to purchasers in the District of Arizona on ten occasions, including to Phoenix Police Department detectives posing as customers.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations; the Phoenix Police Department; the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.  U.S. authorities coordinated their investigation closely with the U.S. Embassy’s DEA London Country Office; the Metropolitan Police in London (Scotland Yard); the Cleveland Police in Middlesbrough, England; the Central Scotland Police; and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).The prosecution is being handled by William Bryan, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Operation Red Dragon


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