Leeds man admits role in drugs conspiracy after 'extremely dangerous' firearms found

A Leeds man has admitted his role in a drugs conspiracy after "extremely dangerous" firearms were seized from a home in the city.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 4:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 5:00 pm
The investigation stemmedfrom Operation Venetic -the UK law enforcement work targeting the encrypted communications platform Encrochat.

Carl O’Flaherty pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply class A drugs, possessing two illegal firearms, possessing firearms without certificates and possession of ammunition when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court on Monday.

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The 35-year-old, of Leysholme Terrace, was arrested on June 14 by the National Crime Agency (NCA) following the seizure of two firearms in April.

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The investigation stemmed from Operation Venetic - the UK law enforcement work targeting the encrypted communications platform Encrochat.

Jayne Lloyd, the NCA's regional head of investigations for the North, said: "This early guilty plea is testament to the hard work of our officers, with the support of partners here and overseas.

"Two extremely dangerous firearms and 200 rounds of ammunition were taken out of circulation. We know that these weapons are used to intimidate, cause fear, and incite serous violence in our communities."

Four others have been arrested in connection with the investigation, including the driver of a car stopped on April 14 by West Yorkshire Police officers.

Class A drugs were found in the vehicle, while searches of his home led to the discovery of two firearms - a Glock semi-automatic pistol and a Howa bolt-action rifle. Officers also found 200 rounds of ammunition and small quantities of cannabis and crack cocaine.

Paul Shepherd, 42, of Stainbeck Lane, Leeds, was remanded to prison after being charged with the possession of a firearm and class A drugs. His trial is due to start at Leeds Crown Court in October .

On June 19, a 39-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply firearms at an address on Ring Road, Cross Gates. He has been released but remains under investigation.

Another man, aged 35, was arrested on June 24 in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, on suspicion of conspiracy to supply firearms. He has been released under investigation.

On July 9, a 32-year-old man from Merseyside was arrested by NCA officers - with support from Merseyside Police - on suspicion of possession of an illegal firearm and handling stolen goods at an address in Kirkby. He has been released under investigation.

O'Flaherty is next due to appear at Leeds Crown Court on August 10.