A DRUG dealer who was involved in the supply of tens of thousands of pounds of cocaine was arrested as he attempted to fly to Mexico.

Lee Taylor and Wesley Kavanagh, from Dallam and Thelwall respectively, were jailed for a combined total of 24 years at Liverpool Crown Court this morning, Thursday, after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

The pair’s operation was discovered during Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response to the infiltration of encrypted communication platform EncroChat in June 2020.

Their communications revealed chats centring on the purchase of around 6kg of the class A substance, a quantity potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Through a separate investigation by Cheshire Police codenamed Operation Stations, Taylor was identified as having used the handle Musical Salmon during illicit dealings on EncroChat over the course of two-and-a-half months.

Warrington Guardian:

In one message, the 34-year-old – who has 25 previous convictions for 64 offences, including for possession of a firearm – described ‘doing some Breaking Bad s***’ in producing large quantities of a cutting agent known as marshmallow.

Around 150 boxes of the adulterant were produced by the pair, with each selling for up to £400.

He also helped his long-time friend Kavanagh, who used the alias Mystic Blade, to obtain an encrypted phone of his own for the price of £1,400.

The 36-year-old also used the app Wickr in a bid to have his communications go undetected by police.

Warrington Guardian:

Other texts referenced the purchase of ‘corners’, a slang term for a quarter of a kilogram of cocaine, due to difficulties in sourcing larger quantities during the first coronavirus lockdown as well as payments of up to £73,900 due in cash and £95,000 in monies owed by customers.

Meanwhile, the duo also used the ‘large scale’ production and sale of cannabis to service debts accrued as a result of their cocaine racket – as well as funding the purchase of further quantities of the class A substance.

First safety worker Kavanagh, of Stockport Road, was held by police in April last year at London Gatwick Airport as the dad-of-two attempted to board a flight to Mexico for a business trip.

Father-of-three Taylor, of Longshaw Street, was then detained during a raid on his home the following day.

Appearing in court via video link, both defendants were handed 12 years in prison.

Sentencing, Recorder Simon Parrington said: “The messages show that the defendants were engaged in a conspiracy involving the wholesale supply of drugs.

“They were also involved in the large-scale production and supply of cannabis, used for the clearance of class A drug debts and used to fund the purchase of high purity cocaine.

“It’s clear that they were involved in brokering the sale of drugs and that they expected a substantial financial advantage.

“There is clear evidence that they were organising the buying and selling of drugs on a commercial scale and were involved in the production of an adulterant in order to mislead those buying.”