International kingpin who smuggled drugs from South America arrested after entering Anfield football stadium

Robert Bennett
Robert Bennett -Credit:NCA

A kingpin drug trafficker has been jailed for 19 years and six months after an investigation by the National Crime Agency.

Robert Bennett was involved in the smuggling, or discussions around possible smuggling, of more than a ton of cocaine into Liverpool. The 50-year-old from Orrell, Wigan, was known as Dior Six on the encrypted platform EncroChat and had worked with offenders abroad and in the UK to traffic cocaine.

It was found Bennet had been using insiders from the Port of Liverpool to break out drugs from shipping containers. He also used foreign contacts to help him orchestrate the smuggling of drugs by road in Europe. In April 2020, other EncroChat users, as well as Bennett, successfully brought 97kg of cocaine from the Netherlands into the UK.


Chat messages suggested the drugs trafficker had successfully smuggled 150kg of cocaine into the docks at Liverpool, all the way from Guayaquil in Ecuador. He had also been discussing another 500kg attempt with South Americans.

Other discussions involved: 200kg of cocaine from Colombia; between 200kg and 300kg at a cost of 7,500 Euros per kg from Costa Rica; and 300kg of cocaine from Brazil, to be smuggled in four 75kg bags. The National Crime Agency (NCA) investigated Bennett as part of Operation Venetic, the UK response to the takedown of EncroChat in 2020.

Today, (Wednesday, May 1), Bennett of Smithy Glen Drive, Wigan but originally from Huyton, Liverpool was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court. He admitted two counts of conspiring to smuggle cocaine from the Netherlands and South America.

Andy Black, NCA senior manager, said: "Bennett was a highly sophisticated and professional international trafficker. He had global contacts and had clearly managed to stay off the radar for a long time.

"He left little trace and was ghost like. He was extremely cautious and had very few official records which are a normal part of life. His tradecraft and awareness of law enforcement tactics were also highly developed.

"Coupled with some superb, tenacious detective work by the team, the Operation Venetic data enabled us to pinpoint what Bennett was doing and bring him to justice. The NCA will continue working with international and domestic partners to fight the Class A drugs threat."

On October 3, 2021, Bennett was arrested after entering Anfield football stadium to watch Liverpool play Manchester City. Inside his wallet, there was some cash, but no credit cards or identification. He also had a 'burner' phone but no smart phone.

L-R: Kevin Murphy and Peter McQuade
L-R: Kevin Murphy and Peter McQuade -Credit:NCA

The nephew of Bennett's partner, Kevin Murphy, was jailed for eight years last week. The 42-year-old of Elwick Drive, Croxteth, Liverpool, worked as an inside man at the Port of Liverpool alongside 39-year-old Peter McQuade.

Murphy admitted facilitating Bennett and McQuade in conspiring to smuggle cocaine from South America. McQuade was saved in Bennett's phone as 'Pullout', referring to his role retrieving drugs from shipping containers.

McQuade and Murphy were both crucial to the drugs conspiracies. They gave Bennett advise on dockside processes and security, with McQuade advising about the best containers for the protection of the drugs to prevent them being intercepted by port authorities, telling him to avoid fridges and food boxes.

Bennett only ever contacted McQuade on EncroChat. Whenever he did not answer, Bennett phoned Murphy and used him as a middle man to relay and check information with McQuade.

McQuade admitted to conspiring to smuggling cocaine from South America and possessing criminal property. He had a Tag watch and around £6,500 in cash when he was arrested. He was given 16 years and 10 months.

A Peel Ports spokesperson said: "Peel Ports Group and the Port of Liverpool Police are pleased to have assisted the National Crime Agency with their investigation. The successful convictions are down to a great deal of effort and collaborative work across both teams and underlines just how seriously we take any matter of criminality."