STIFF tackle got a whole new meaning after a gang were jailed for selling £10 million of fake Viagra under the guise of a fishing tackle business.

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Fake viagra - not this, the real thing - was sold under the guise of a fishing tackle business.

Fake viagra – not this, the real thing – was sold under the guise of a fishing tackle business.

The highly organised plot, believed to be based in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, provided fake erectile dysfunction pills across the country.`

The northern branch of the major operation was lead by Thailand-based Stephen Laverick with the day-to-day running of the operation entrusted to his ex-wife Catherine. The southern end was headed by Neil Gilbert, 42, and saw them rake in £60,000 a week.

London’s Old Bailey court heard the conspiracy lasted eight years from 2004 and continued even after the gang were arrested in September 2011 following an investigation by the drugs regulatory body, MHRA. Money laundered or obtained through fraud by all of the defendants totalled £8,444,896.

Prosecutor Gillian Jones said: “This case is not about wanting to distribute good medicines cheaply, but rather the motivation was greed, with an utter disregard for patient safety.

“This was big business. The proceeds of the supply of these medicines via websites which have been traced to various merchant facilities is in excess of £10 million – that is not the real figure.

“Not all bank accounts have been identified. Some are abroad and haven’t been traced properly and some medicines were paid for in cash.

“They purported to be trading fishing tackle, cosmetics or jewellery but they were just a front to hide the real merchandise which was unlicensed medicines.”

Sentences ranged from six years to suspended terms.

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