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Man finally admits he supplied chemicals to make crystal meth
A CRYSTAL meth chemical dealer from Middlesbrough involved in a long-running extradition battle has finally admitted his guilt.
Brian Howes faces up to 20 years behind bars after admitting ten charges of supplying red phosphorous and iodine – ingredients in making metamphetamine – to crystal meth dealers in the USA, where those chemicals are restricted.
He has admitted that he knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that his customers in the USA were using the chemicals for illegal purposes.
Howes has also pleaded guilty to mislabelling the chemicals as they were shipped, with his website KNO3.com, based in Bo'ness near Falkirk, promising "discreet delivery".
The 48-year-old has signed a plea agreement with the Arizona District Attorney whereby he admits knowingly supplying the restricted chemicals red phosphorous and iodine via his website to undercover police officers in Phoenix Police Department, on several occasions in 2006.
He has admitted ten of the 82 charges levelled against the couple.
Howes had long protested his innocence and fought a five-year campaign against extradition to the USA – even going on hunger strike - but his appeal was eventually rejected by seven Supreme Court judges in London last year.
He was sent to the USA and is believed to have spent the last few months in the notorious Maricopa County jail, part of which has been designed to be like a concentration camp.
Howes was snared in a sting operation by detectives in Arizona in 2006. He carried on unknowingly supplying the undercover detectives even after being interviewed by Cleveland Police and warned that his activities were illegal in the USA.
He was extradited along with his estranged wife, Kerry Ann, last year. Her testimony is believed to be key in Howes admitting his guilt.
The couple had originally argued they were running a legitimate business supplying legal chemicals, unaware they were being used to make illegal drugs.
However, in July the UK's Supreme Court threw out their appeal as it was also revealed that Howes had been accused of child sex offences when he lived in Arkansas, in 1986, and a further accusation had been made against him when he was living in Middlesbrough.
Howes is expected to be sentenced on May 15.