'conspiracy' | 

Close associate of drug lord ‘Jabba The Hutt’ given 21-years behind bars following EncroChat exposé

He also supplied his cousin with drugs to sell on the gang’s behalf

Anthony Bowden

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

A close associate of a drug lord known as ‘Jabba The Hutt’ has been given a 21-year sentence for smuggling heroin into the UK from the Netherlands, Liverpool Echo reports.

Anthony Bowden (40) "was closely trusted by" Jabba and "played a leading role" in the gang.

He worked to organise the purchase and sale of drugs "on a commercial scale" as well as organising the trafficking of the drugs.

The Liverpool-based OCG supplied millions of pounds worth of drugs across the North West of England.

The gang used the encrypted messaging platform EncroChat. The head honcho, who directed the sale of more than 84kg of heroin and 17kg of cocaine, went by the name JabbaTheHut, while Bowden used the handle HyenaJaw.

Bowden supplied his cousin, Andrew Sweeney (45), who used the name SquashChamp on the site, with at least 4.5 kilos of heroin to sell.

Police raided Bowden’s home in June 2020 after the authorities gained access to EncroChat.

They seized £30,000 worth of designer clothing and shoes, while Bowden tried to destroy a mobile phone by putting it into a glass of water.

Messages found on EncroChat discussed how lockdown would not “impact his dealing” and how to avoid police detection. He also discussed importing drugs from Holland.

He was arrested at Holyhead ferry terminal in Wales on May 10th 2021.

Following a trial, Anthony Bowden was found guilty of conspiracy to import heroin, conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine and possession of the criminal property.

He had previously been handed down a four-year sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine in 2012.

"Serving that sentence did not put you off committing very serious crime. You decided the risk of being caught was low and the high reward was worth it,” Sentencing, Judge Anil Murray said.

"What you did was to advance the interests of the operation. I am sure yours was a leading role. You were organising the buying and selling of drugs on a commercial scale. You had close links to the original source,” she continued.

"You had the expectation of substantial financial advantage. Your actions helped to move the whole conspiracy along. You were in close association with Jabba and you were closely trusted by him. You were close to the source of importation,” she continued.

"While below Jabba the Hutt, you were towards the top of the supply chain. This was an operation on a regional level."

Meanwhile, his cousin Andrew Sweeney was handed down seven-and-a-half years in May 2022 after he admitted to the charge of conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

£15,000 and heroin was found in his possession upon his arrest.

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