The ringleaders sold unauthorised and prescription-only medicines to more than 4,000 British customers from their properties in France and from warehouses in Belgium and Kent.
Six other key players unlawfully distributed the products on the black market to British farms, stables, kennels and vet surgeries. Three other major customers were convicted, as well as one man responsible for laundering the proceeds.
Steve Dean, Chief Executive of the Government’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), which prosecuted the case, said: “This was a significant commercial enterprise which seriously attacked the principle of safe and effective veterinary medicines. “Incorrect use of medication of unknown origin and dubious quality compromises animal health and welfare, increases the risk of harmful residues in the food chain and raises the spectre of unnecessary antibiotic resistance.”
The medicines included non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, anabolic steroids, antibiotics, sedatives, and pain control treatments for a variety of species including horses, cows, sheep, pigs and household pets.