Seven years jail for Leeds steroids smuggler

A man who masterminded a £5m illegal body-building drugs importing business from his Leeds home has been jailed for seven years.

Nicholas Aristotelous, 39, spent vast sums importing human growth hormones, steroids and other class C drugs including viagra from the Far East in a "well organised conspiracy".

* Click here to sign up to free news and sport email alerts from your YEP.

The five-year operation is estimated to have had a turnover of 5m and netted a profit of around 2.9m.

* Click here to follow the YEP on Twitter.

A court heard yesterday of the severe dangers associated with the drugs Aristotelous dealt in. Side effects can include major heart problems, cancer, blindness and blood disorders.

Aristotelous, of Roker Lane, Pudsey, was the central figure in the conspiracy which included five other men.

Money was transferred primarily to China to buy thedrugs as well as other prescription-only and unlicensed medicines including Kamagra – a fake version of Viagra.

He negotiated prices, controlled drug orders and managed the despatch of the drugs to UK addresses.

A range of different delivery addresses were used in a bid to avoid rousing the suspicions of the authorities.

Aristotelous ran websites to supply the drugs worldwide and also sold them locally through contacts. It appeared his ambition was to become a leading global supplier.

He had plans to expand his network to Canada and Mexico.

After his arrest Aristotelous admitted his dealings enabled him to live the high life. He travelled everywhere first class by train and by air, stayed in the best international hotels and ate in the finest restaurants, where he enjoyed VIP status.

He also set up Swiss bank accounts for his business use.

When his home was raided 18,000 cash was found. He also told authorities that he hid 50,000 in his garden to avoid tax.

Aristotelous pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to fraudulently evade the prohibition on the importation of controlled Class C drugs.

He also admitted a further offence of possession with intent to supply Class C drugs. This related to 193,000 Diazepam

tablets found at his home.

Sean Smith, for Aristotelous, said he spotted his business opportunity in 2004 after he had flunked out of university and was almost bankrupt.

He initially thought his activities would be legal after going into partnership with a man he met at the gym where he trained.

The pair flew to China where they were introduced to professors who claimed to have supplied supplements to the Chinese Olympic team at the Beijing Olympics.

He continued to operate despite knowing what he was doing was illegal. Mr Smith said but "snowball had begun to roll" and he needed to provide for his family.

Ben Womack, 33, was jailed for four years for the conspiracy and money laundering.

Womack, of New Street, Broadbottom, Hyde, Cheshire, helped Aristotelous continue his illegal business after his home in Leeds had been raided and he was released on police bail.

Between them they had transferred more than 800,000 out of the country using Womack's dying grandfather's bank account.

Andrew Abbott, 44, of Daleside Road, Pudsey, was jailed for 18 months after a being found guilty of the conspiracy and money laundering earlier this year.

Robert Scott, 43, of Cramner Bank, Moortown, was given a 12 month suspended sentence and 240 hours unpaid work after pleading guilty to the conspiracy and money laundering.

Paul Crabb, of Pavilion Gardens, Pudsey, given a six month suspended sentence and 200 hours unpaid work after being found guilty of money laundering.

Abbott, Scott and Crabb were described as "foot soldiers" in the operation by helping to transfer money back to the far east or collect drugs from mail boxes in the UK.

Another man is still to be sentenced in connection with the operation at a later date.

Leeds United: Player ratings in seven goal gut-wrencher against Millwall