RED CARD: For Atherton

A BRITISH drug smuggler who flogged at least €10 million worth of cocaine was busted while watching a football game in Andalucia. 

According to the Liverpool Echo, Peter Atherton fled to Spain after Liverpool police rumbled his huge cross-country Class A drugs conspiracy.

His fingerprints and handwriting were on ledgers which revealed the Wirral-based group moved up to 303kg of cocaine in just five months.

But while keeping his head down in southern Spain, Atherton just couldn’t resist watching his home team take a shot at European Cup glory.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the 43-year-old was cuffed on a European Arrest Warrant on November 21 last year.

The drug dealer was captured in Sevilla, at the 3-3 group stage draw between Sevilla and Liverpool.

Atherton was taken back to the UK in December to face justice.

In total British police seized £1.4million of drugs including more than 9kg of cocaine, 7kg of heroin, 10,000 MDMA pills and 11,000 diazepam tablets.

Some £200,000 in cash was also seized, as they pieced together the Wirral gang’s international operation back in 2016.

Atherton was one of three men who controlled the gang’s ledgers and his home in Heswall, Merseyside, was raided on July 12, 2017.

Sevilla v Liverpool

Prosecutor Nicholas Johnson QC said Atherton previously flew to Dusseldorf in Germany to meet an ‘upstream cocaine supplier’, nicknamed ‘Belly’.

He flew from Manchester to Malaga the day after he was interviewed by police and failed to answer police bail on December 6.

Atherton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in England and Wales and was jailed for 18 years and nine months.

Speaking after the case, Detective Sergeant Katherine Ashburner said: “Working alongside our partners with Europol and the NCA, we were able to bring Atherton back to the UK to face justice. We will be relentless in tracking down those who think they can run and hide in other countries.

“These offenders, as with others involved in serious and organised crime, never gave a second thought to the effects of their involvement in the supply of Class A drugs.

“Their own ledgers revealed that they moved cocaine to the value of £9m, destined for UK streets, where these drugs cause harm and misery in communities.”

Anyone with information on suspected drug supply is asked to call 101, or contact independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously and for free on 0800 555 111.

Staff Reporter

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