An Aintree man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for a drugs conspiracy following a Merseyside Police investigation under Operation Venetic.
Lee O’Donnell, 28, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court today (Thursday 16 February) after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply a Class A drug (cocaine), Class B drug (cannabis), money laundering and acquiring/using/possessing criminal property.
O’Donnell operated under the ‘Encrochat’ handle ‘toxicmantis’ from March 2020 to June 2020 and was given the nickname ‘Scarface Anfield’ by other Encrochat users due to a scar on his face and Anfield was where he used to live.
Officers were able to identify O’Donnell by putting together clues from investigating his Encrochat handle and at one point he revealed his own first name and that he was a hackney cab driver.
Officers managed to establish that he used his cab to transport drugs during the Covid-19 lockdown.
O’Donnell also bragged on Encrochat about purchasing a television from a specific store and officers were able to find evidence and further details about the transaction.
He was arrested on 10 November 2022.
Speaking after the sentencing, Sefton Community Policing Inspector Raymond Mavrakakis said, “O’Donnell’s Encrochat messages revealed his clear involvement in drug conspiracies that could have caused suffering to families and residents in our community.
“His messages clearly identified him as the user of the ‘toxicmantis’ Encrochat handle, which showed his involvement in conspiring to supply significant amounts of cocaine and cannabis, causing misery to the people of Merseyside and potentially beyond.
“We know the destruction that drug supply causes and Merseyside Police remains relentless in our pursuit of these criminals and to bring down serious and organised criminal groups.
“O’Donnell, like many offenders before him, thought he was hiding behind a secure communications system. Instead, he collected damning evidence of his own drug supply and will face a long spell in prison.”
Anyone with information on drug supply is asked to contact @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Image: Merseyside Police