A drugs boss who boasted he could make £30,000 a week and specialised in adulterating cocaine for organised crime groups across the country has been jailed for 19 years and six months.
Richard Weild, 39, of Wallasey, was known for his expertise in bulking out multi-kilo deals of cocaine with ‘brand’ labels stamped into individual blocks.
Weild, whose clothing and watch collection was worth at least £70,000, operated on the encrypted communications platform EncroChat under the name Blacklable.
He had more than 50 criminal contacts in his network, including some overseas, and there was evidence he supplied crime groups – including County Lines drugs gangs – across the North West and as far afield as Plymouth and Southampton.
His EncroChat messages indicated that some of these groups utilised Highways Maintenance vehicles and removals trucks as a disguise to move on the roads during lockdown restrictions.
EncroChat was dismantled in 2020, and the National Crime Agency led Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response.
The NCA disseminated messages Weild had sent and received on EncroChat between March and June 2020 to the specialist Merseyside Organised Crime Partnership (OCP) – which comprises NCA and Merseyside Police Officers.
They proved that in just those four months Weild adulterated at least 62 kilos of cocaine for other OCGs – charging them £1,500 per kilo. He also supplied at least 14.75 kilos of cocaine, two kilos of heroin and 41.5 kilos of cannabis to his own customers in that time frame.
Evidence showed he also directed couriers to transport at least £800,000 in cash during the same short time period to UK locations.
NCA senior manager Mick Maloney said, “Richard Weild was well-connected and viewed by OCGs as a real asset.
“He made vast amounts of money by happily playing a role in an illegal trade that kills people and destroys lives and communities.
“He’s going to spend a long time in prison, a world away from his flashy lifestyle and the expensive goods he bought from the proceeds of crime.
“The OCP was created to help protect Merseyside from firearms and drugs crime and Weild’s imprisonment is a good result for us all.”
Weild owned the Gas Works Motor Company in Wavertree, Liverpool, and masqueraded under the guise of a legitimate businessman.
It is believed he made well over £1m from around June 2019 to his arrest date in November 2021 by adulterating hundreds of kilos of cocaine for OCGs around the country.
Weild was sentenced on the basis that he admitted supplying five kilos of heroin, 176 kilos of cocaine and 200 kilos of cannabis – although investigators believe he may have supplied hundreds more to his own customers over a number of years.
Weild’s EncroChat phone contained nearly 20,000 messages. Examples of him talking about how much money he made include:
“If I carry on making tops [cocaine] for people an get this weed parcel again I’ll have life changing money”
“I looking at the bigger pic mate am getting along great the money coming in thick an fast an not putting myself out there got a easy life”
“I am happy cracking on I can make 30k a week sometimes no hassle”
“I have made so much money of this ye know”
“Wait till you see these jobs I make they look heavy I made 12-15 for these kids in 2-3 weeks … making another 4 into 5 tomo”
“Been making 4 to 5 EV week 7500 cash. For one group … I make em for a good few people mate I can get you any stamp you need”
“I can get use what ever stamp use want get them copied as the same tops your sending so you can mix then in your work think about it”
“Lost a very very good punter this week … I had a good run about 4-5 yrs out of him”
Weild employed assistant John Morris, 50, to look after a safe house in Dalemeadow Road, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, where Morris lived and where they bulked the Class A.
The pair were arrested on 9 November 2021.
Approximately 20 kilos of Class A and B drugs were seized from the safe house (2.214 kilos cocaine, 3,171 2-CB tablets – a Class A hallucinogen, 35.4g MDMA, 16.75 kilos of cannabis, 1.5 kilos of cannabis resin), along with 22 kilos of adulterants, and paraphernalia used for the large-scale adulteration of cocaine.
Thirteen cars were seized from Weild’s motor business.
A Proceeds of Crime Act investigation into Weild’s wealth is underway.
Judge David Aubrey KC said Weild ran a “highly sophisticated serious organised crime group”, and dealt in “huge” quantities of drugs.
He added that Weild was “leading the good life at the expense of others” with his “trade of misery and destruction”.
Weild pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court in January 2022 to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA, 2-CB, cannabis and transferring criminal property.
Morris admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA, 2-CB and possession with intent to supply cannabis. He was jailed for 10 years.
Though Weild pleaded guilty more than a year ago, sentencing hearings were repeatedly adjourned after he sacked numerous defence barristers.
Earlier this year he appeared in court with a revised basis of plea in which he admitted supplying wholesale quantities of cocaine, but minutes later sacked his barrister and said he wished to change his plea to not guilty. Weeks later he reversed this decision again.
Image: (L-R) Richard Weild, John Morris, and the ‘branded’ drugs