An alleged drugs kingpin could have used ‘horse wormer’ seized at Heathrow Airport to bulk-out cocaine and leave him with drugs worth £47m, a court heard.

Going by the username ‘LuxuryFall’, Simon Rooney is said to have used the heavily-encrypted Encrochat mobile phone network to communicate with other suppliers – including ‘OrcaEgg’ and ‘StainedPond’ – in 2020. Prosecutors claim he was involved in supplying cocaine, referred to by the slang term ‘top’, and class B drug mephedrone or M-Cat.

He is also said to have arranged the sale of £60,000-worth of amphetamine to Oxfordshire-based Paul Smith. The drugs were found by police hidden in a loft space on the Manor Park traveller site near Kidlington, and Rooney’s DNA was allegedly found on the drugs packaging.

Prosecutors claim he was responsible for arranging 336kgs of tetramisole, a horse wormer that can be used as a cutting agent to bulk out cocaine, to be flown from China via Turkey to the UK.

The product was intercepted by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport on May 24, 2020, hidden in 12 chemical barrels and said to have been flown from Hong Kong.

Opening the case against 38-year-old Rooney at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday, prosecutor Barry McElduff said the barrels had been labelled as containing ‘sorbic acid potassium salt’.

“To quote the Ronseal ad, they didn’t do what was said on the tin, because when they were tested they did not contain potassium salt. They came up on the machine that they use as containing Levamisole; Levamisole and tetramisole are the same thing,” he told jurors.

It was said an ‘airway bill’, a slip of paper found with the drums and containing details about the order, included Rooney’s Gmail email address.

Checks by the police linked the email address to the defendant’s home in Burnley. The Gmail account had also been used to set up an account on cryptocurrency exchange website Coinbase, Mr McElduff said. And a screenshot of the Coinbase account was also found in the Encrochat messages.

The jury was told: “The prosecution say leaving attribution of LuxuryFall to one side, there is compelling evidence that attributes the email address on the consignment to this defendant.”

The airway bill intercepted by the Border Force was allegedly discussed by Encrochat users LuxuryFall – said to be Rooney – and an unidentified person using the account ‘OrcaEgg’. The law enforcement agency was said in the messages to ‘know’ the tetramisole was a ‘bash’, or cutting agent, ‘for class A’ drugs.

Mr McElduff acknowledged the ‘disappointment and exasperation on the part of Mr Rooney and OrcaEgg’. But why? he pondered.

In 2020, when the consignment was intercepted, suppliers were said to be cutting three parts of powder cocaine with one part bulking agent such as tetramisole.

The jury was told: “A total of 336kgs of tetramisole could potentially have been integrated with 1,008kgs of cocaine, producing 1,344kgs with a wholesale value – wait for it – of just over £47m.”

Outlining the prosecution case, Mr McElduff said the jury would hear a number of pieces of evidence linking Rooney to the LuxuryFall Encrochat phone.

Passwords in a notes-style application included his partner and son’s names followed by the numbers 123, the court heard. May-born Rooney talked in April 2020 about celebrating his 36th birthday ‘next month’. And ‘LuxuryFall’ sent an image of a street in Burnley to which he had links, as well as pictures of ‘home and garden renovations’ at Rooney’s home.

“The prosecution say any fair, objective, proper analysis of those strands will lead you to the clear conclusion that Mr Rooney is LuxuryFall. Who else could it be?” Mr McElduff said.

Yesterday, jurors were told that they would also hear evidence about messages sent between Rooney, Smith and a woman – said to have been a courier – in June 2020.

Oxford Mail: Manor Park caravan site near KidlingtonManor Park caravan site near Kidlington

Prosecutors say the woman drove from the Home Counties to the north of England then back south to deliver the large quantity of amphetamine to Paul Smith, who has pleaded guilty to his part in supplying the class B drugs.

Rooney, of Fairfield Drive, Burnley, denies conspiracy to acquire and supply cutting agents for class A and B drugs, being concerned in the supply of cocaine, conspiracy to supply mephedrone, and supplying amphetamines.

The trial continues.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

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