A drug kingpin who flooded the UK with cocaine was told he had entered ‘Premier League level’ crime when he finally faced justice. Michael Moogan, 37, was on the run for eight years and became one of the most wanted men in the country before he was finally caught in Dubai.
He was dragged back to Greater Manchester after extradition and made a philosophical impression on his return. “You won’t get in trouble from me,” he told the arresting officer after arriving back on home soil.
‘I am tired now. Take me to Manny and put me in cat A. I’m done now.’
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Moogan has since been remanded in Strangeways Prison and appeared on video link Friday morning at Manchester Crown Court where he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Moogan had no previous convictions before he became involved in the massive importation of Class A drugs.
“You have chosen to enter the world of crime at Premier League level,” Judge Paul Lawton told him. “You knew you were flooding the UK with cocaine, enabling other organized crime groups to ply their trade, with all the inherent violence and crime involved.
“You knew you were playing for extremely high stakes.” Prosecutors told how Moogan had been involved in importing 62 kilograms of cocaine into the UK after meeting other criminals at Café de Ketel in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Dutch police bugged the property, which was not open to the public and had an intercom to allow entry, to record conversations and take secret video footage of those going in and out.
The cafe was used as the “operational base” for two brothers who were allegedly wholesale importers and helped bring cocaine from South America to Europe before reselling it. Moogan and his father-in-law Robert Gerard, 57, both from Liverpool, were introduced to the brothers by Robert Hamilton, 71, from Hale, Trafford.
Hamilton told them he knew two people who wanted to buy 60 to 80 kilograms of cocaine, and vouched for Moogan and Gerard. He said the two men “had their own transportation,” prosecutor Keith Sutton said.
The National Crime Agency said Moogan had told contacts he brought cocaine from Argentina, hidden in flesh, to the UK. The organisation, often referred to as the UK’s version of the FBI, said there was evidence he could bribe port officials to ensure his drugs got through.
Moogan and Gerard went to meet the brothers and discuss cocaine deals. Between April and October 2013, they visited the café 14 times.
Mr Sutton said secret recordings showed the pair arranged three imports of cocaine, of 20kg, 18kg and 24kg. They expected “significant financial gain” from their crimes, the prosecutor said.
Mr Sutton said the brothers were later arrested at the cafe, where police seized €319,575 in cash, as well as firearms and ammunition. “It is clear that Mr. Moogan was involved in a professional and well-established criminal enterprise,” the prosecutor said.
He said Moogan used PGP encryption devices. Hamilton received an eight-year prison sentence in 2014, while Gerard received a 13-year prison sentence in 2017 after they each admitted their part in the conspiracy to import cocaine.
Moogan remained on the run until 2021 when he was traced to Dubai. When he was caught, the police discovered that he had three German identity documents under an assumed name but with his photo.
After a ‘lengthy’ extradition process, he was returned to the UK last year and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine. Defensively, Nigel Power KC said Moogan’s period of offense represented a “relatively small” portion of his life, which “otherwise would have been a good life.” His partner and children will remain in Dubai, Power said.
At sentencing, the judge accepted that the references presented to the court portrayed Moogan in a “rather different” light. But he said that despite Moogan not having a recorded criminal history, he was operating at an advanced level “more akin to a seasoned professional.”
Moogan will serve half his sentence in prison. Speaking after the hearing, Ben Rutter, the NCA’s Senior Investigating Officer, said: “Moogan did everything he could to prevent this day, but justice has finally caught up with him.
“He was a major figure in the international drug trade. His shipments of Class A drugs undoubtedly brought misery and real damage to the British communities they reached.
“His long-awaited prison sentence is the result of years of hard work by the NCA and law enforcement partners in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. We especially thank the Dubai Police for their excellent work in helping us track down Moogan and ensure his return to the UK.” .
“Fugees must take note of this matter – they can never rest easy. The NCA has a global reach and will never give up the hunt for them.”