A former rugby star was convicted after copying the hit TV show Breaking Bad to rake in hundreds of thousands of pounds by cooking crystal meth.
Lorenzo Bocchini, 36, set up a hi-tech drugs laboratory in his luxurious Little Venice home, where police recovered £300,000 of drugs, £33,000 cash and a stun gun.
Crystal meth at the flat was found to have been dyed blue — the colour of a narcotic created by fictional drug baron Walter White in Breaking Bad.
Bocchini’s brother Alessandro, 43, was arrested along with his wife Justine, 36, in the same police operation eight months earlier at their Bayswater home.
Officers recovered crystal meth, MDMA and £12,210 in cash. The couple pleaded guilty to a string of drugs offences, including possession with intent to supply crystal meth, the designer drug mephedrone, ecstasy and cocaine. They were jailed earlier for six and four years respectively.
Footage seized from CCTV inside their home showed the pair counting thousands of pounds worth of cash just hours before they were raided.
Police say the family members ran a wholesale drugs distribution network using an Uber driver as a courier to transport packages to users around London, referring to the deliveries as “T-bags”.
A financial investigation identified £100,000 of drugs money went via the couple’s bank accounts in the six months before their arrest.
In total, detectives believe they have identified millions of pounds of assets, including a flat in Dubai.
The family were targeted by detectives from Lambeth police’s Omega drugs and firearms team in a long-running surveillance and intelligence operation. Detectives had been investigating a spate of deaths from chemsex drugs such as GHB, including fatalities at a gay sauna in Vauxhall.
Today Det Con Matt Clark, who led the investigation, said: “The Bocchini family were making significant profits selling highly dangerous and addictive class A drugs. What we uncovered was the wholesale supply of crystal methlyamphetamine and other drugs, focusing on the ‘chemsex’ scene in south London.
“The use of crystal meth within this scene is hugely damaging and we believe there are strong connections to drug deaths, rape and child sexual exploitation, links which we continue to investigate.”
Alessandro was identified as a supplier of wholesale amounts of crystal meth and police raided his Bayswater house last November.
His wife Justine, the mother of two young children, told officers as the pair were held: “It was a good life.” During interviews, both denied possessing or dealing drugs and Justine claimed she just “baked cup cakes”.
However, photographic evidence from Alessandro’s phone showed a kitchen table laden with crystal meth in a preparation phase prior to sale, with a text message from him that read: “Well cooked my little chef.”
His brother Lorenzo was due to be sentenced at Southwark crown court on December 1 for drugs supply offences. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
When officers raided his rented flat in July, as well as drugs and cash they found sachets of dye used to colour the crystal meth blue in an apparent copy of the Breaking Bad series.
Police say all three offenders grew hooked on the drugs they supplied.
Det Insp Stephen Payne, of Omega squad, said the case was unusual because none of the main offenders were previously known to police.
He added: “In that sense it was like the Breaking Bad scenario. These were professional people who made a choice to go into this venture. They were not career criminals but were looking for an opportunity to make money out of nothing.
“They lived a high-roller, Breaking Bad lifestyle, not really knowing what to do with the cash. They even seemed to adopt the Breaking Bad signature of dying their crystal meth blue.”
Lorenzo Bocchini played as a prop for two Italian club sides in his career between 2000 and 2010, including for Viadana in the Heineken Cup.
In 2010 he was named by the British press as one of the players from the L’Aquila club who helped survivors when an earthquake hit the town.