Thames Valley cocaine dealer gets lengthy jail sentence after airport drugs bust

Simon Rooney faces 20 years in jailSimon Rooney faces 20 years in jail
Simon Rooney faces 20 years in jail
336kg of an illegal substance was recovered from a plane at Heathrow Airport

A man who supplied drugs throughout the Thames Valley has received a lengthy jail sentence, following a court trial.

Simon Rooney, 39, of Burnley in Lancashire, has been jailed for 20 years for supplying cocaine and mephedrone. He was convicted on Tuesday (9 April), following a four-week trial at Oxford Crown Court in which a jury found him guilty of five offences relating to the supply of cocaine, mephedrone and amphetamines and conspiracy to acquire and supply cutting agents.

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He was investigated by Thames Valley Police and the National Crime Agency, who discovered he was using Encrochat to hide his true identity.

drugs seized during a raid of Rooney's homedrugs seized during a raid of Rooney's home
drugs seized during a raid of Rooney's home

NCA investigators discovered he was using the “Luxuryfall” codename on the encrypted messaging app.

Police have now revealed Rooney’s messages were being monitored by French law enforcement and shared with the NCA as part of Operation Venetic – the UK’s response to the takedown of the Encrochat service.

NCA officers began investigating Luxuryfall’s messages in May 2020. After trawling through thousands of messages, it became clear that Luxuryfall was involved in supplying cocaine and mephedrone – a Class B drug, the agency said.

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It was also discovered by the NCA that Luxuryfall also discussed importing cutting agents such as a horse wormer called tetramisole, which would bulk out the drugs to increase potential profits.

Drugs seized by Border ForceDrugs seized by Border Force
Drugs seized by Border Force
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A police spokesperson said: “Investigators subsequently identified Rooney as the man behind Luxuryfall. Thinking his use of Encrochat gave him complete anonymity, Rooney shared images of his cars, his garden and his house, and described the extensive work he was having carried out at his home.”

One message the NCA has shared said: “Mate I gutted this house its a nice area but looks like footballers moved in had it all k renders knocked walls out open plan massive kitchen dug all garden out on front made a massive drive fits 10cars…”

To secure his arrest the NCA says it worked with Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Border Force who were also investigating the Burnley man.

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On 24 May 2020, Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport seized 336kg of tetramisole which they recovered from a flight inbound from Hong Kong.

NCA officers subsequently identified that the email address on the paperwork for the cargo belonged to Rooney. Rooney – in the guise of Luxuryfall – also shared an image of the paperwork via EncroChat, further proving his link to the cutting agents.

NCA officers estimate that the tetramisole was estimated to have a wholesale value of around £47 million, once mixed with cocaine.

In June 2020, TVP officers investigating a fatal road traffic collision executed a search warrant at Manor Park in Kidlington. They recovered 60kg of amphetamine with a street value of around £600,000.TVP investigators uncovered evidence that suggested Rooney had supplied the amphetamines to an organised crime group operating in Thames Valley and other parts of the South East England region.

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This was confirmed when subsequent forensic analysis of the drugs identified Rooney’s DNA on the drugs and packaging.

Officers then secured a warrant to raid Rooney’s home in Burnley on 7 October 2021. He was arrested at his home and subsequently charged.

NCA Senior Investigating Officer, Andrew MacGill, said: “Together, the NCA, Border Force and Thames Valley closed the net on Rooney. By gathering irrefutable evidence of Rooney’s crimes we ensured he faced justice.“We’ve also taken a large quantity of drugs and cutting agents out of circulation, so they cannot cause harm to communities or money from their sale be used to line the pockets of criminals.”

According to NCA data, almost 1,500 offenders have been convicted as a result of Operation Venetic, leading to over 10,600 years of jail time.

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TVP investigating officer PC Adam Taylor said: “This is a fantastic result for everyone involved.“My thanks go to everybody who has helped in this case. It has not been an easy trial, but I am grateful to the jury for their deliberations which has led to the convictions.

“Rooney is now serving a lengthy custodial sentence and a significant quantity of drugs have been removed from the supply chain.”