Northampton crime gang sentenced for dark-web drugs operation

Drugs seized included; Cocaine, MDMA, Crystal MDMA, Amphetamine, Cannabis and Ketamine. Credit: Northamptonshire police

Four men have been jailed for a combined total of more than 34 years in prison for running a multi-million-pound dark web drugs operation.

Vladislavs Cvirkovics, aged 28, Filip Hmelnicenko, aged 31, Denis Potapenko, aged 28, and Edgars Pirants, aged 32, all pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply Class A drugs at court hearings earlier this year.

They ran a sophisticated multi-million-pound drugs operation from Northampton, where customers would buy drugs from them on the dark web using cryptocurrency. The gang would then distribute the drugs via the postal service, both nationally and internationally.

(clockwise from left) Hmelnicenko, Cvirkovics, Potapenko and Pirants have been jailed. Credit: Northamptonshire police

  • £2.7million dark web drugs operation

  • Cocaine, MDMA, Crystal MDMA, Amphetamine, Cannabis, Ketamine

  • Royal Mail used to send drugs to customers

  • First ever electronic seizure of cryptocurrency

This is our first ever successful prosecution of a dark web drug supply and seizure of cryptocurrency, demonstrating that Northamptonshire Police can punch well above its weight in our ability to tackle this type of complex and hidden criminal network.

DS Keith Morson, Northamptonshire Police’s Serious & Organised Crime Team

A storage facility in Northampton was discovered in June 2019. Inside police found £2.7million of Class A drugs; including 3.7 kg of cocaine, 50kg of MDMA tablets and Crystal MDMA, along with Class B drugs, amphetamine, cannabis and ketamine.

Evidence then led police to an industrial premises in Moulton Park where they discovered a large and sophisticated cannabis factory with a street value of £400,000.

  • Cvirkovics was sentenced to ten years for conspiring to supply Class A drugs and six years for conspiring to supply class B drugs and one year for the possession of a stun gun, to be served concurrently.

  • Potapenko was sentenced to six years and eight months for conspiring to supply Class A drugs, three years for conspiring to supply Class B drugs and ten months for the possession of CS spray, to be served concurrently.

  • Pirants was sentenced to seven years for conspiring to supply Class A drugs.

  • Hmelnicenko is due to be sentenced in early 2021.

The scale of this drugs activity and the advanced tactics utilised by this criminal group are issues more typically associated with larger metropolitan forces and I am really proud of the team here whose work was second-to-none - meticulous, tenacious and committed, ensuring this gang was taken down.

Detective Superintendent Lee McBride, Head of Serious & Organised Crime, Northamptonshire Police