We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Organised Crime

'Kinahan' drugs and cash smuggler told to pay more than €700k to UK authorities

Thomas Maher (42) originally from County Offaly was sentenced to 14 years and eight months imprisonment for drug trafficking in December 2020.

A JAILED FORMER haulage company owner who smuggled drugs across Europe for the Kinahan organised crime group must pay €724,103 to UK authorities or face more prison time.

Thomas Maher (42) originally from County Offaly but with an address in Wiltshire Close, Warrington, was sentenced to 14 years and eight months imprisonment in December 2020.

The British National Crime Agency uncovered his underworld haulage business as part of Operation Venetic. This was the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of encrypted global communications service EncroChat – a messaging service used by criminals.

The enquiries showed that he operated a transportation network spanning Europe, moving drugs into the UK and Ireland and the profits in the other direction.

In one exchange of messages with a criminal associate he bragged that he had been involved in organised crime for more than 20 years.

Yesterday a judge at Liverpool Crown Court made a confiscation order for £629,159.15 (€724,103), including his house in Warrington, cars, lorries, jewellery, a number of high value watches, artwork and gold ingots bought in Dubai. He has three months to pay or faces an extra six years in jail.

The NCA’s Head of Asset Denial, Rob Burgess, said that the case is a significant victory for the agency.

“Thomas Maher was a career criminal who was trusted by some of Europe’s biggest crime groups to move their drugs and money.

“The confiscation order will ensure money he made will be returned to the public purse to fund further efforts to protect the public from organised crime,” he said.

Maher’s criminal activities came to light as the NCA investigated the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry in Purfleet in October 2019.

The tractor unit involved had at one point been owned by Maher, and was still registered in his wife’s name even after it was sold.

The NCA said in a statement today that Maher was released with no further action taken by Essex Police in regard to the deaths of the migrants.

But investigations continued by the NCA’s financial investigators and this revealed that despite Maher and his wife being on less than minimum wage for tax purposes, “they lived a luxurious lifestyle”.

The NCA carried out a seven month surveillance operation which uncovered Maher’s meetings with criminal associates at hotels and in public spaces in the North West of Britain to organise the trafficking of cocaine from the Netherlands to the UK and Ireland.

As well as drugs, Maher also helped to facilitate the movement of large sums of cash, charging a commission for his involvement.

NCA officers arrested Maher on 13 June 2020 at his home in Warrington, after receiving intelligence that he planned to leave the country.

He was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in December 2020 after pleading guilty to importing drugs and money laundering.