‘Ordinary’ British dad-of-three is actually Colombian cartel’s chief drug dealer

A dad who seemed live an ordinary life secretly organised international drug deals on behalf of the most feared crime gangs.

Thomas Maher lived in a pleasant but modest home in the Warrington suburbs and appeared to be a normal father with a successful business.

His neighbours in Wiltshire Close had no idea that he was in fact a broker for transnational crime groups.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has provided transcripts of messages Maher sent on the EncroChat network that prove his involvement in the drug trade.

The NCA first got onto Maher after police discovered the bodies of 39 dead Vietnamese migrants who had asphyxiated in the back of a lorry registered under his name.

Although they couldn’t get him on the death they then began a massive police investigation which led to the uncovering of messages on the Encrochat phone network, commonly used by established criminals.

Maher used the Encro handle Satirical and in the messages can be seen discussing moving cocaine out of Colombia.

In more uncovered messages Maher discussed the present of rival crime factions in Sweden and business opportunities in China.

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He wrote: “"They say massive money over there m8 also m8 they say Sweden is a good place for work money is ment to be big bit a lot of Albanian c**** have it wrapped up there . . and why not do Africa to BG and BG to the flat m8.”

Other messages show Maher negotiating a price to move drugs from Holland to Ireland and discussing a colleague who had been jailed as a result of an NCA led investigation into his tax affairs.

He said: “"M8 look at a lot of cases here and big players in there eyes normally its only conspiracy they get done on and can get big time . that's why here is Tue worst place in the world for conspiracy laws and at home didn't have them laws until last 2 or 3 years they brought it in.”

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Maher then mentions an associate in Spain who was jailed for 32 years and says he’s considering fleeing to Cyprus as it has no extradition treaty with the UK.

He also talks about setting up a front company in Spain that will look like a legitimate haulage firm to import legal items into UK but would be then used to smuggle cocaine, cash and firearms.

On June 13 last year Maher, then 40, was arrested at his home after a raid by the NCA.

He pleaded guilty to two charges relating to importing Class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering and was jailed for 14 years.

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NCA branch commander Martin Clarke said: “Maher moved in the highest criminal circles, acting as a logistics man for some of the UK, Ireland and Europe’s most notorious organised crime groups who trusted him with their drugs and money.

“We believe the offences he has been convicted of represent just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his overall criminality. He bragged in EncroChat messages about being involved in organised crime for over 20 years, during which time it’s highly likely he shipped tonnes of drugs and tens of millions of pounds around Europe.

“After a painstaking investigation, we have been able to bring him to justice. And that investigation has not stopped. We will use all the tools available to hit him where it hurts – in the pocket – to ensure he can’t continue his luxury lifestyle when he’s released.”

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