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Merseyside private hire driver used his job & other drivers as a way to disguise drug runs

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Image credit : Merseyside Police

A private hire driver from Kirkby, Merseyside, was jailed for nine years and four months on Thursday 6 January, in the latest Operation Venetic case by Merseyside Police.

Anthony Lonergan, 25, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court to be sentenced for conspiring to supply Class A and Class B drugs in the Merseyside area.

Lonergan was arrested on 21 October 2021 after being identified as using the encro-chat handle ‘palacepuma’.

Lonergan worked with others to supply Class A drugs and Class B drugs across the Merseyside area and pleaded guilty to all four offences of conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis, cannabis resin and ketamine.

Lonergan arranged to purchase drugs via the encrypted mobile device which he then sold via his ‘graft’ phones which operated around the Merseyside area.

Charles Lander, prosecuting, said: “Of note, the defendant was licensed as a private hire driver and the messages suggest that he uses, on occasions, other private hire vehicles to conduct certain transactions.”

Between the end of March 2020 to the start of June 2020, Lonergan was shown to have conspired to supply 3.8kg of cocaine, 76kg of cannabis (cannabis and cannabis resin) and 3kg of ketamine.

Detective Inspector Mike Dalton said: “Our work to find those responsible for supplying Class A and B drugs and across Merseyside continues.

“We rely on our local communities to be our eyes and ears as part of these investigations and I would continue to urge people to come forward if they have information which could assist us.”


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