Cheaper than cannabis ‘spice’ is known as the “suicide drug” on the street
Users will experience vivid hallucinations followed by fits of thrashing around on the floor and screaming. Following this, it leaves the user unresponsive and paralysed for hours
Seven men and a woman concerned in the supply of the synthetic cannabinoid ‘spice’ have been sentenced to over seven and a half years’ imprisonment and received a total of 35 years’ Community Behaviour Orders.
Ramzi Barkat, 45, of Third Avenue, Chadwell Heath, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to six counts of conspiracy to supply spice. 40-year-old Miguel Chaves, of St Albans Road, Seven Kings, received the same sentence after pleading guilty to four similar counts.
Both men were also handed five-year Community Behaviour Orders banning them from a designated area of Westminster, where the gang had set up a wide-ranging spice distribution network.
The pair were part of a gang of seven men and one woman who were involved in the supply of the drug and were arrested following Operation Spatha, which was launched in March.
It’s estimated that around a quarter of the homeless living in the streets use spice which is highly addictive, and has long been the drug of choice in Britain’s jails, where it has been linked to an increase in violence among inmates.
In addition to the psychotic problems, other known side-effects of spice include vomiting, seizures, hypertension, hyperthermia, agitation, aggression and severe kidney injury.
Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling, Westminster’s Borough Commander, said: “In January, after three deaths, including one murder, directly related to the psychoactive substance commonly known as ‘Spice’, Westminster’s Crime Squad began a detailed Operation in conjunction with specialist officers and the Local Neighbourhood Team.
“Spice wreaks havoc on users and causes great concern within the community.
“The substance has become prevalent within the homeless community where dealers prey on some of the most vulnerable within our society. Officers felt passionately about tackling the dealing of spice.
“The Operation was hugely successful, the conviction of nine dealers and the sentences handed down reflects the seriousness of the offence and the commitment of officers in Westminster to protect the community.
“Spice is a vile substance that robs the user of all awareness and dignity and is highly addictive.
“The tactic utilised was the first of its kind be used nationally and we remain committed to protecting the vulnerable from this drug and those that would place the users and wider community in harm’s way.”
During the arrest phase of the operation in June, officers targeted drug dealers who mainly operate in the Charing Cross area, supplying spice predominately to people that are homeless.
The following defendants were sentenced along with a five-year CBO was granted ordering Chaves not to enter a designated area of Westminster.
Augusto Limba, 26, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply a Class B drug. He was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment and a 12-month supervision order.
Anthony White, 37, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to seven counts of conspiracy to supplying spice.
Miguel Chaves, 40, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to four counts of conspiracy to supply spice.
Patrick Etiele, 32, was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to four counts of conspiracy to supply spice.
Mark Akhimie, 48, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply spice.
Keziah Watson, 19, was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to nine counts of conspiracy to supply spice. She was also ordered to 30 hours at an attendance centre. A three-year CBO was granted ordering Watson not to enter a designated area of Westminster.
Harry Read, 20, pleaded guilty for one count of supplying spice, he received a nine month suspended sentence, 250 hrs community service order and received a two-year CBO ordering him not to enter a designated area of Westminster.
Two further defendants have previously pleaded guilty to supplying the Class B drugs and are due to be sentenced later this month at Southwark Crown Court. Dimitri Ofosu, 29, of Mayall Road and Ashraf Benyunis, 24, of no fixed address.