Man jailed for 15 years after drugs and cash found in Waterloo

A man who was extradited from Spain after drugs and cash was found in his home was jailed on Friday, 28 June.

Stephen Warner, aged 36 years of Waterloo, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and conspiracy to commit arson at Liverpool Crown Court and was today sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Warner is the latest man in Merseyside to be jailed as part of Operation Venetic – an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service to try to evade detection.

This was after an extensive investigation where he was identified as being the user of the Encrochat handle ‘zonelizard’, as he provided his personal details on multiple occasions on the encryption device.

He also used a password on the device that was linked to his daughter, and made references to a vehicle which was registered and insured to him. In addition, he discussed in detail on three separate occasions when he was arrested and had an electronic tag.

His Encrochat handle also evidenced that in June 2020, Warner arranged for associates to carry out an arson attack on a vehicle of a man he believed owed him money. Officers later confirmed that a vehicle was set on fire in Anfield in June 2020.

Encrochat messages also showed that Warner was seeking to carry out a further two arson attacks.

Following a search of Warner’s flat on Alexandra Road in February 2021 officers found £10,000 in cash and a quantity of Class A and Class B drugs.

Subsequently, Warner fled to Spain and in October last year, he was arrested by Spanish Police and extradited to the UK to face justice.

Merseyside Police charged Warner with conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs, namely cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamine, and cannabis, and conspiracy to commit arson.

Detective Inspector Peter McCullough said, “The Encrochat messages clearly demonstrated that Warner played a leading role in supplying Class A and B drugs. This was further verified with the cash and drugs found in his flat.

“The arson attacks he plotted to carry out showed he had no regard for public safety and innocent people could have been hurt by these reckless actions.

“Serious organised crime gangs are massive blight to our communities where drugs are closely linked to serious violence, involving firearm and knife crime.

“I hope this sentencing shows that Merseyside Police will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of people who think they are above the law, and we will continue to target criminals by thoroughly examining any evidence, messages and images we find.”

Anyone with information on suspected drug production or criminal activity in their community can contact @MerPolCC, call 101 or come forward anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.

Image: Stephen Warner/Merseyside Police

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