21 February 2024 14:11 First of its kind case: pioneering Met investigation leads to man being sentenced to 11 years for GBL drug offences A pioneering Met investigation has led to man being jailed for 11 years for GBL drug offences.

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

Afshin Alikhani, 43 (23.12.80) of Abbey Road, NW6 has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for offences including importing over 500 litres of the drug GBL (gamma-Butyrolactone) in a landmark case at the Old Bailey on 16 February. 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 an in-depth surveillance operation in 2020 where Met officers carefully investigated his importation and distribution of industrial quantities of GBL.

When meticulously sweeping through 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 meaning investigation teams worked incessantly to build a strong case to show his involvement with distributing this dangerous drug, as well as demonstrating the negative consequences of the substance.

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 particularly with the GBT+ community and for men who have sex with men.

Incorrect dosage of this drug can be fatal, and it can be weaponised by perpetrators leaving victims susceptible to sexual assault and rape. There is a strong correlation between the use of GBL and crystal meth within chemsex scenarios.

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 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.”

During the trial at Harrow Crown Court at the end of July 2023, 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 4 August 2023 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 to February 2024 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.

“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.”

The Met is working closely with partners from the charity sector, addiction specialists, and those within health and the wider criminal justice sector to ensure it approaches these areas sensitively and a considered response is provided.

The Met understands there are many sensitivities and concerns around recreational drug taking, particularly in the context of the chemsex scene. We continue to work with culturally sensitive partners to ensure the public are educated around this subject, and the best people to offer advice are accessible to those who seek support.

For help and support / information:

Chemsex – London Friend

Galop – the LGBT+ anti-abuse charity

SurvivorsUK | We challenge the silence to support sexually abused men

GMHC | GAY MEN’S HEALTH COLLECTIVE (gaymenshealthcollective.co.uk)