Revealed | 

How narco king known as ‘The Chocolate’ was nabbed on crime app

‘The Chocolate’ will be one of the highest-profile mobsters to be taken down – if convicted

'The Chocolate' has been arrested after a Europe-wide investigation

Barney Morgan was pushed aside by The Chocolate

Richard SullivanSunday World

The Border drug dealer known as ‘The Chocolate’ has told associates that he’s ready to go to jail.

The Newry-based narco king is preparing to stand trial next month on a raft of drugs charges including importation and distribution.

The notorious dealer was detained as part of a Europe-wide investigation called Operation Venetic, in which criminals using encrypted mobile devices to import and export drugs were targeted.

Commonly referred to as EncroChat, criminals have used encrypted mobile devices to adopt and hide behind code names.

Around 60,000 users of EncroChat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the UK – all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering and other criminal activity.

A number of people in Northern Ireland have been arrested and charged, with a small number of cases already having passed through the courts.

‘The Chocolate’ will be one of the highest-profile mobsters to be taken down – if convicted.

But until his court appearance it’s business as usual for one of the most prolific drug dealers in the North.

According to sources, last week he is understood to have been involved in an altercation which resulted in the temporary closure of a bar in the Newry area.

Sources have told the Sunday Worldthere was a confrontation after members of staff at a Newry bar raised concerns over the mob using it for drug deals.

It is understood a complaint was made to the bar manager who confronted an individual who is a known associate of The Chocolate.

It resulted in the arch criminal being called and his arrival at the bar.

“He told everyone there that as far as he is concerned Newry is his town and that he will do his business wherever he wants,” said our source.

“It was a tense moment, the staff were terrified to the extent the manager sent them home early.”

He said there were rumours the pub had shut permanently over concerns for staff and customer safety. The bar was closed the following day but has since reopened.

It’s not the first time The Chocolate has been involved in a bar-room confrontation.

A number of years ago a member of staff at another Newry bar was on the wrong end of a beating at the hands of the crime boss after he tried to have him barred because of drug dealing on the premises.

The notorious mobster has a reputation for extreme violence and has been known to inflict brutal beatings, on one occasion dragging a driver who worked for Sinn Féin into the street and giving him a hammering.

The Chocolate has no convictions, despite being widely known as a major player in the drugs market.

The Sunday World, which is aware of his identity, first uncovered The Chocolate’s activities when he muscled in on the border town’s lucrative drug trade, pushing aside Barney “King Coke” Morgan.

Morgan, who also does not have criminal convictions, controlled Newry’s drug trade for years until the arrival of The Chocolate.

It was The Chocolate who brought heroin to the streets of the border town after going into partnership with an eastern European organised crime gang.

Residents expressed alarm at the rising tide of the deadly drug – people injecting heroin are now a regular sight on the streets of Newry. One resident told us how she challenged two people who were injecting in a children’s playpark.

Raymond McCreesh Park, which has been at the centre of controversy after it was named in honour of the IRA hunger striker, has become a playground for drug dealers and users.

“It was incredible,” the resident told us. “They were sitting in the playground, there were syringes on the ground, one of them had blood on it and they were clearly off their heads.

“When I spoke to them they just ran off.”

Despite residents’ objections, The Chocolate has continued to flood the area with the deadly drug.

The Newry native has been a fixture on the local drugs scene for many years. Known as much for his penchant for violence as his drug dealing, he has been peddling cocaine and cannabis for some time.

Now, in partnership with his east European gangsters, he has moved into the heroin trade.

Residents claim they have passed information to the police but as yet The Chocolate has been left free to conduct his business.

He is regarded as one of the more prominent dealers around Newry and is widely feared because of a volatile temper and his unpredictability.

Barney Morgan was pushed aside by The Chocolate

In 2019, lunchtime drinkers at two pubs across the border in Omeath were left stunned when a clearly drunk Chocolate fired six shots into the air before driving off.

He took exception to being recognised and went outside, loosing off three shots, before driving to another watering hole where he carried out a repeat performance.

The serial love cheat was with his mistress at the time but despite the incidents being reported to the police there were no arrests.

The Chocolate lives under constant threat from rival dealer and dissident groups and it is not clear how well he will fare if he ends up inside.

He is preparing for jail time by ensuring his business is protected if he sent down.

In May this year a money launderer who used EncroChat to hide his crimes was handed a three-year sentence.

Samuel McKeag (37) was sentenced at Laganside Crown Court following an investigation led by the National Crime Agency.

Half his sentence will be served in custody and the rest on licence as he pleaded guilty to a number of offences including conspiracy to possess a Class A controlled drug with intent to supply, possessing criminal property, transferring criminal property and possessing counterfeit currency.

The sentencing is the first in Northern Ireland to result directly from Operation Venetic, led by the NCA.

This was part of the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of the EncroChat network in 2020.

The encrypted communication channel was used by criminals to plan crimes such as importing drugs and moving cash.

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