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24th Jun, 2022

Solihull men jailed over multi-million pound drug smuggling operation

TWO SOLIHULL men have been jailed for their part in a multi-million pound drugs smuggling operation.

Gary Vickery, 39, and Daniel Canning, 43, alongside Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh, 54, from Tamworth admitted conspiring to import class A and B drugs, and money laundering.

Canning, from Dickens Heath, also admitted possessing a firearm and ammunition.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimated the group imported drugs worth around £30million at street value.

At Ipswich Crown Court Vickery was handed a 20-year sentence, Canning 19-and-a-half years and Kavanagh to 21.

The trio, headed up by Kavanagh, started to be investigated by the NCA in early 2016.

In January 2017 Irish police linked a number of seizures of drugs and weapons to Midlands-based freight and logistics firms linked to Canning, Vickery and a third Irish man named Martin Byrne.

Vickery, Canning and Byrne were all arrested by the NCA in October 2017 following the seizure of 15 kilos of cocaine and more than 220 kilos of cannabis, found inside a six-tonne industrial tarmac removal machine at Dover.

Officers raided Vickery’s rented property in Boundary Lane, Solihull, where they recovered five 25 kilo barrels of boric acid powder – often used as a cocaine cutting agent – a cash counting machine, £43,000 and 200,000 Euros cash.

Small amounts of cash and further phones and encrypted communications devices were found at Canning’s home in Dickens Heath.

Kavanagh, an Irish national, was arrested at Birmingham Airport as he returned to the UK in January 2019.

The NCA say Kavanagh was a high-ranking member of the Kinahan organised crime group – a Irish network involved in drugs supply, firearms and money laundering – acted as the figurehead of the organisation in the UK.

The trio pleaded guilty to the offences they were charged with in July 2020, though legal arguments, the Covid-19 pandemic and Vickery’s extradition from Lanzarote delayed their eventual sentencing.

Martin Byrne died of cancer in August 2018 before he could be charged.

Deputy Director at the NCA, Matt Horne, said: “This investigation involved co-operation with An Garda Síochána in Ireland. We are determined to work together to target criminal networks impacting communities on both sides of the Irish sea.

“Our financial investigation into Kavanagh and his associates is ongoing, with a view to stripping them of any assets they have acquired through their criminality.

“This is not the end of our activity targeting this group.”

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