Succesful property developer dad trafficked cocaine under nickname 'Covid kid'

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Wesley Campbell was described in court as "community minded", but the reality couldn
Wesley Campbell was described in court as "community minded", but the reality couldn't be more different (Image: NCA WS)

A property developer dad who ran a thriving business has been jailed after his dark secret life was exposed.

Wesley Campbell trafficked huge amounts of cocaine under the pseudonym "Covid Kid" for criminals Craig and Ashley Gallagher as they plotted to flood the country with hundreds of kilograms of illicit class-A substances.

Under the pseudonym "Covid Kid", he worked alongside the brothers until the ring was exposed after the network was infiltrated by police three years ago. Calling on a network of contacts in Brazil, the Netherlands and Spain as they looked to import drugs into the UK on a "breathtaking" scale.

The siblings also arranged the sale of a frightening arsenal of guns - including AK-47 assault rifles and semi-automatic AR-15s, the Liverpool Echo reports. Jurors heard this week that the organised crime group conducted its business over encrypted communications platform EncroChat. At Liverpool Crown Court, Stephen McNally, prosecuting, described how Campbell was a "customer" of the Gallagher brothers and on "onward supplier with others working under his direction".

EncroChat messages from April 2020 revealed that he was indebted to his suppliers to the tune of £123,050 and made arrangements for this balance to be cleared by handovers of cash. While arranging a delivery with Craig Gallagher on another occasion, the 39-year-old said that his "mate had the use of a Highways Agency vehicle" if required.

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Campbell, who also used the handle "FoxBat"", was linked to the supply of 14.75kg of cocaine and cash totalling £220,000 overall. The dad-of-four, of Castle Green in Kingswood, Warrington - has no previous convictions. Cheryl Mottram, defending, told the court: "Mr Campbell has worked hard all his life to support his family.

"He worked hard to set up a property business, which was a successful enterprise. He was keen to support his family to enjoy a lifestyle. In 2019, he decided to try and expand his business and bought a development project. He sank large amounts of his family's savings into that development and took a substantial loan from the bank to develop it.

"When covid hit, Mr Campbell found himself in a very difficult situation. He had a property that he could not sell or rent out, which was draining any extra income he had. Struggling financially, he made the stupid decision to take an opportunity with the short-term promise that it would relieve his struggles with that. He is aware of the wrong decision he made.

"He was a desperate man at that time. He felt it was his responsibility to support his family and ensure that the lifestyle they enjoyed continued. He is remorseful for the damage he has done to his children, his partner and his relationship with them. That has devastated him.

"He knows he is to blame for that. Your honour will be sentencing Mr Campbell as a drug dealer. There is much more to Mr Campbell than that. He is a family man, he is a businessman and he is a man of the community. There is another side to Mr Campbell. He is a man who people speak of being kind and generous and going out of his way to help people when they need it - someone who is very much community-minded."

Campbell admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was handed 12 years behind bars. Craig Gallagher - of Inchcape Road in Childwall - pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to convert criminal property and assisting an offence of conspiracy to transfer firearms, with the 36-year-old being jailed for 24 years. Ashley Gallagher remains at large and is believed to be on the run abroad.

Sentencing, Judge David Swinnerton said: "You all thought you were invincible and protected by the encrypted phones you were using. It is those phones that have proved to be your downfall. You each used that device for your illicit trade in drugs, believing it to be safe and secure. As a result of painstaking and meticulous work by agencies across Europe, your sophisticated drug dealing has been revealed."

Adam Everett

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