Drug cutting agents seized at Port of Felixstowe helped secure 10-year jail sentence for London criminal Shem Lovelace-Hall

Shem Lovelace-Hall was sentenced to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to money laundering and

Shem Lovelace-Hall was sentenced to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to money laundering and importation of cutting agent. - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk port seizure of a ton of cutting agents which could have produced drugs with an estimated street value of £32.5 million has helped put a London-based importer behind bars.

Shem Lovelace-Hall, 20, was sentenced to ten years in jail yesterday at Croydon Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to money laundering and importation of cutting agent.

Officers began investigating on Sunday, September 20, after a consignment of 30 25kg drums of benzocaine and ten 25kg drums of phenacetin were seized at the Port of Felixstowe by the UK Border Force. The consignment had been shipped from a Chinese pharmaceutical company to Lovelace-Hall’s flat in Thornton Heath, south London.

A further 100kg shipment of phenacetin had been seized at Heathrow airport on Thursday, June 18, having been sent by the same company to the offender’s address.

The Metropolitan Police said phenacetin has no legitimate use in the UK, having been identified as carcinogenic, and benzocaine has no legitimate use in the volumes found. The chemicals are both common cutting agents used in the adulteration of class A drugs, particularly cocaine.

Det Sgt Phil Carruth of Croydon Crime Squad said: “This was a bespoke investigation over a six month period by Met officers working in conjunction with the National Crime Agency.”

“Tenacious detective work resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of cutting agent that had no purpose other than to be illicitly cut with class A drugs.”

Most Read

Lovelace-Hall was linked to the websites www.strictlybenzocaine.co.uk and www.bash.is, both of which sold cutting agents.

Police said a search of his Thornton Heath flat identified financial material linking Lovelace-Hall to these offences.

Analysis of his laptop and mobile phones identified material implicating him in the large-scale importation of cutting agents.

He was arrested on Thursday, September 17, and pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court on Wednesday, December 2, to money laundering and importation of cutting agent contrary to section 45 to 65 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

“Today’s sentence should act as a deterrent to others,” DS Carruth added.

“The MPS will pursue, charge and convict those involved in such illegal activities.”