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pure greed Haulage boss Thomas Maher delivered drugs shipments for both sides in Kinahan/Hutch feud

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Thomas Maher (40) pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the importation of Class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering

Thomas Maher (40) pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the importation of Class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering

Thomas Maher (40) pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the importation of Class A drugs into the UK and two charges of money laundering

Greedy trucker Thomas Maher worked for rival criminals in the Kinahan and Hutch mobs and had his illegal transport network back on the road delivering drugs, guns and cash within weeks of getting caught up in the probe into the death of 39 immigrants in the back of a container he once owned.

Maher was jailed this week for 14 years after pleading guilty to transporting cocaine from the Netherlands to Ireland via the UK and laundering cash.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had used the encrypted phone network Encrochat to plan his black market transport for gangs across Ireland.

Officers say he would stop at nothing to keep the flow of cocaine, heroin and weapons flooding into Ireland even though he was caught up in the investigation into the death of the tragic Vietnamese workers who suffocated on their journey to a new life.

Maher is understood to have been the transport Mr Big for the Kinahan Cartel along with other drug gangs in the UK and Ireland for a decade before he was swept up in the Encrochat investigation.

Sentencing him, Judge David Aubrey QC said: “You were an extremely important cog in the wheel of a sophisticated network of distribution of class A controlled drugs which had an international element.

“You were a trusted organiser, playing a part where goods were to be exchanged, how parties would be able to identify each other when drugs were to be conveyed and how.

“Drugs cause desperation and misery, they are a cancer in our midst, but for those like you it matters not as long as financial profit is being achieved.”

The judge said Maher, owner of Thomas Maher Transport Ltd, provided “expertise” from owning a haulage business within the operation.

Catherine Rabaiotti, prosecuting, said Maher was arrested at his home on June 13th, the same day Encrochat issued an alert telling users it had been compromised. Neither of the two Encrochat devices linked to him were recovered, the court heard.

Ms Rabaiotti said messages showed him acting as a go-between and “logistics manager”. She said: “Passwords, times, details of stops and prices were passed through the defendant acting as a middle-man for the parties.”

SundayWorld.com can reveal that Maher’s business had funded a lavish lifestyle which he and wife Joanne enjoyed in their €500,000 home in the UK with his and hers Range Rovers, numerous sun holidays and nights out in fancy restaurants.

Locals in their plush neighbourhood in Warrington believed the couple with the white weekend sports car and oodles of cash were simply successful business people.

While he ran a transport company, she owned a hair dressing salon but behind the façade he was providing a vital component to organised crime gangs desperate to move their products through borders and over seas with regular goods.

Maher was on the radar in Ireland before he left his native Offaly and disappeared into the vastness of the UK where he set up his transport company and immediately made it know he was willing to transport anything.

Through a network of drivers across the UK, and along the Irish border counties he proceeded to grow into one of the most trusted logistics man working for major mobs.

He was arrested in October last year after the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people found in a shipping container in Essex, but was never charged in connection with the deaths.

A count of conspiracy to commit a crime abroad – that of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to Ronan Hughes in Ireland between April 21 and 29 this year – was ordered to lie on the file after Maher pleaded not guilty.

Hughes pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey in August to 39 counts of manslaughter following the deaths of the Vietnamese migrants.

Police in the UK will continue to pick through a treasure trove of cars, property and other assets owned by Maher as he languishes behind bars while a network linked to his operation remain under investigation suspected of transporting everything from guns to humans into Europe.

Maher was one of many who have found themselves the victims of their own success in recent months. High level phone hacking uncovered the extent of his logistics operations between the Netherlands and Ireland.

He was targeted under Operation Venetic which was created as a direct response to the success of Dutch and French police hacking the Encrochat phone system – a favourite of organised criminals and one which has been used by the Kinahan crime organisation.

Messages untangled from the encrypted system suggested that apart from moving drugs and money, Maher was also trying to organise to have Monaghan trucker Ronan Hughes seriously injured as he faced extradition to the UK on charges relating to the container deaths.

He was previously arrested along with his wife in relation to the Essex container investigation. He told officers that he had previously owned the container, which was in his wife’s name, in which the 39 people died but said he had sold it.

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

Maher and his wife were never charged in connection with the investigation into the tragic deaths of the 39 migrants.

Speaking at the time, Maher said: “It’s absolutely disgusting what has happened.

“We owned the cab and sold it on October 3 last year to a company in Southern Ireland.

“I’ve made contact with the police and made them aware that I was the previous owner.

“Seeing the cab on TV wasn’t nice and obviously we are not a part of that."

The NCA have previously said that while Operation Venetic had snared hundreds of criminals Thomas Maher was one of the most significant. Officers monitored his movements over a seven month period during which he met with associates in hotels and in public to organise the trafficking of cocaine.


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