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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 January 2007, 17:43 GMT
US drugs suspects held in custody
Brian Howes - Pic: Evening Gazette, Middlesbrough
Brian Howes will face further extradition proceedings in March
A couple facing extradition to the US over an internet-based drug making ring have been remanded in custody.

Kerry Ann Shanks, 29, and 43-year-old Brian Howes were refused bail at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The couple were detained on Tuesday following a police operation in Bo'ness, near Falkirk.

It has been alleged that they supplied chemicals to illegal drugs laboratories in the US involved in making the synthetic drug methamphetamine.

The move followed an indictment handed down by a grand jury in Arizona which alleges that the couple sold chemicals through their website - including red phosphorus and iodine - which are used to manufacture the drug, also known as crystal meth.

The arrests of Mr Howes and Ms Shanks - a mother-of-four - came at the climax of an international operation involving police and other law enforcement agencies investigating the making of the drug.

Police allege that the pair created a "one stop shop" for the chemicals.

Sheriff Isabella McColl refused bail mainly, she said, to protect the public, to ensure the proper administration of justice and because of the special circumstances of the case.

As far back as 2004, Howes and Shanks ran an internet business suspected of supplying a global network of meth labs in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries
Paul Charlton
US Attorney

"They have the means to take flight and face very serious charges in the USA", she said.

Further hearings are due to take place in March.

Earlier Mr Howes, originally from Middlesbrough, was taken back to his Bo'ness home by police in handcuffs while they searched the property.

Police said a motor museum and funeral premises were also being searched.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency has issued details of a massive drugs production ring in which Mr Howes and Ms Shanks are alleged to have played major roles.

The couple are said to have supplied enough of the chemicals, which are legal in Scotland but regulated in the US, to help produce several million pounds worth of the illicit drug.

Principal Depute David Dickson told the court that 1,050kg of the chemicals were found by police during the Bo'ness raids.

Business addresses

This amount could have been used to produce three-quarters of a tonne of crystal meth, the court heard.

Mr Dickson claimed that up to 11,000 per week could be made from the sale of raw chemicals.

Cleveland Police in the north east of England and the Central Scotland force have been involved in a two-year probe into crystal meth production.

The investigation focused on the alleged supply of chemicals involved in production of the synthetic drug to individuals in the US, Europe and Australia via the internet.

Policeman stands outside house in Bo'ness
Police officers have been searching a number of properties

The couple were arrested in Bo'ness on Tuesday by Central Scotland Police officers, working on behalf of the US agency.

Police also swooped on business addresses in Bo'ness.

A spokesman for Central Scotland Police said: "The operation is ongoing."

Paul Charlton, US Attorney for Arizona, said: "As far back as 2004, Howes and Shanks ran an internet business suspected of supplying a global network of meth labs in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries."

A major police operation in June, involving up to 250 officers, saw a raid on the couple's alleged distribution centre in Grangemouth.

Police said Mr Howes and Ms Shanks had lived for some time in Cleveland.

A US conviction for unlawful importation and distribution of regulated chemicals such as red phosphorus carries a maximum penalty of 20 years, a $250,000 (128,268) fine or both.

The latest developments

Couple 'at centre' of drugs ring
31 Jan 07 |  Tayside and Central
Arrests in US drug supply inquiry
30 Jan 07 |  Tayside and Central
Meth 'restricts babies' growth'
06 Sep 06 |  Health

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