United Kingdom

Dad who appeared ‘ordinary’ was actually Colombian cartel’s chief drug dealer

A dad-of-three who lived a seemingly ordinary life has been exposed as a chief drug dealer in the ‘highest criminal circles’ of international gangs.

Thomas Maher appeared to be another successful businessman with a taste for nice cars and flash jewellery.

But an international probe by officers at National Crime Agency uncovered his links to dealers in Colombia and Europe, reports the Liverpool Echo.

Just before he was caught, he sent messages to gang members talking about fleeing the country and starting a new life in Cyrus, where there is no extradition treaty with the UK.

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.

Maher first came to the attention of the NCA after police discovered the bodies of 39 dead Vietnamese migrants who had asphyxiated in the back of a lorry registered in his name.

Although officers were unable to charge Maher in relation to the deaths, the NCA then became interested in his affairs.

Thomas Maher has been jailed for 14 years and eight months

Maher, who ran a haulage business, lived in a modest home in the suburbs of Warrington.

He had a taste for fast food and loved taking his family out for nice meals and posing for selfies.

The NCA has now provided transcripts of messages Maher sent on the EncroChat network, which reveal the degree of his involvement in the drug trade.

Thomas Maher's house in Warrington with police cars outside
Police swoop in on Maher’s home in Warrington

Maher was jailed for 14 years as a result of a massive police operation which allowed investigators to read messages on the EncroChat phone network – used by established criminals.

Maher, who used the Encro handle Satirical, discussed moving cocaine out of Colombia, where the drug is sourced.

In a series of messages, he talked about how the pandemic had stopped some of his drug deals from going through.

13 watches on displays models all owned by Maher
More than a dozen watches owned by Thomas Maher

In another section of messages, Maher talked about the presence of rival crime factions in Sweden, and business opportunities in China, saying there was ‘massive money over there’.

He later discussed another gang member who had been jailed as a result of a NCA-led investigation into his tax affairs.

“Maher worried about the pressure from the NCA in the UK and talks about fleeing the country.

piles of money seized during the probe
He lived a luxurious lifestyle spending hundreds of thousands of pounds

He said: “Mate look at a lot of cases here and big players in their eyes normally it’s only conspiracy they get done on and can get big time.

“That’s why here is the worst place in the world for conspiracy laws and at home didn’t have them laws until last two or three years they brought it in.”

He added: “It’s mad mate, I don’t know him I never met him the b fella but ya f****** feel for the c*** in away probably always played it right slipped up on the tazzer and now then this been thrown at him.

pic of Thomas Maher outside
The dad-of-three was planning to ‘sort his tax bill and get away’ before he was arrested

“That’s why I’m saying once I get clear on this sort my tax bill I’m away mate because all they would need is to get a conspiracy on me for something.”

Maher’s role in the global drug trade became clear when police in Europe managed to penetrate the Encrochat network that he relied on to communicate with associates.

On June 13 last year Maher, then 40, was arrested at his Warrington home during a raid by the NCA. He later pleaded guilty to two charges relating to importing Class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering.

Bags of cash owned by Thomas
Cash seized during an investigation into the activity of the underworld boss

Maher, originally from Ireland, was jailed for 14 years during a hearing last December for drug and money laundering offences.

After Maher was sentenced in December last year senior officers at the NCA spoke about the role he played as a “logistics man” who helped “notorious” crime groups.

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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