Former haulage firm owner, a drug trafficking and money laundering crime boss, told to hand over £630k
OFFALY man Thomas Maher, aged 42, of Wiltshire Close, Warrington, a former Irish haulage firm owner who organised the movement of drugs and cash between Europe, Ireland and the UK has been ordered to pay over £630,000 (€722k) to the UK exchequer from his organised crime assets.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) obtained evidence as part of Operation Venetic that showed he operated a transportation network spanning Europe, moving drugs into the UK and Ireland and the profits in the other direction.
Maher, from Clara in Co. Offaly was sentenced to 14 years and eight months in prison in December 2020.
Maher had bragged about being involved in organised crime for over 20 years. He lived a luxurious, flamboyant lifestyle spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on cars, holidays and jewellery.
In their investigation, the UK law enforcement agency used evidence from the encrypted global communications service EncroChat.
In one exchange of messages with a criminal associate he bragged that he had been involved in organised crime for more than 20 years.
On May 22 a judge at Liverpool Crown Court made a confiscation order for £629,159.15, including Maher’s 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: “This significant result demonstrates the agency’s ability to recover criminal assets, and prevent criminals from benefitting from their wrongdoing. 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.”
Maher was initially arrested as part of the investigation into 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.
Maher was released with no further action taken by Essex Police, but an NCA financial investigation revealed that despite being on less than minimum wage for tax purposes, they lived a life of luxury
During a lengthy surveillance operation NCA officers watched Maher meet with criminal associates at hotels and in public spaces in the northwest of England 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 in June 2020 at his home in Warrington, after being alerted to the fact that he might abscond.
He was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in December 2020 after pleading guilty to importing class A drugs and money laundering.