'Piggy Wilson' caught with thousands of pounds in cash hidden inside Valentino box

Anthony Wilson
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

An EncroChat drug trafficker known as "Piggy Wilson" kept tens of thousands pounds stashed inside a Valentino box.

Anthony Wilson used the encrypted communications platform to trade in wholesale quantities of heroin and cocaine, including plotting deals with a family member. He branded his sentence a "joke" as he was locked up today.

Liverpool Crown Court heard this afternoon, Wednesday, that the 43-year-old had secretly utilised the handle "BushSky" on EncroChat. But, when the network was infiltrated by the French police during 2020, messages showed that Wilson, who is originally from the Walton Vale area, had been involved in "organised and directing the purchase and supply" of 16kg of cocaine and 2kg of heroin.

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Matthew Conway, prosecuting, referenced a sample of his communications - including those exchanged with his cousin Daniel Shepherd, who went by the username "Vain Crane". The 32-year-old, from Kirkdale, was locked up for 11-and-a-half years last month.

Wilson's conversations were said to have evidenced his involvement in the drug trade "on a commercial scale" in the "expectation of a substantial financial advantage". Messages also revealed a county lines-style "graft" operation in the Bootle and Kirkdale areas known as "Piggy Wilson", which was said to have been named after the defendant.

His activities led to his home on Lentworth Drive in Worsley, Greater Manchester, being raided by Merseyside Police on August 26 2021. During a search, officers seized £740 in cash from a downstairs workroom and more than £26,000 from inside a box which was discovered on top of a wardrobe in a bedroom and branded with the logo of luxury label Valentino.

An encrypted Google phone with a Russian SIM card was also recovered from the same room. Wilson answered no comment to detectives after being transported into custody at Copy Lane Police Station.

His criminal record shows a total of 14 previous convictions for 40 offences, dating back to 1996. These include receiving 33 months for possession of heroin and cocaine with intent to supply in 2004 and a 10-year term for conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to commit an offence outside England and Wales in 2014.

Anthony Barraclough, defending, told the court that his client had served 23 months on licence after being recalled to prison on the latter sentence. He added: "His assertions are that he was a facilitator or broker and took a cream off the profit, which seems to be a common situation in these cases.

"He is not an importer or a street dealer, he is a middle man. It is sadly becoming common that people are throwing away many years of their lives for getting involved, or in this case getting involved again.

"He is not the chief executive. He is, we say, the broker."

Mr Barraclough also cited a recent incident behind bars, during which Wilson stopped a fellow inmate who was "high on spice" from attacking a guard. He said: "He is a model prisoner.

"It shows a different side to the character of this man, who is a drug trafficker - I do not say dyed in the wool, but he has got a number of offences. But there is another side to him.

"Some judges say that everyone is sorry when they are facing a sentence. My submission is that there is substantial and true remorse."

Wilson admitted conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine. Appearing via video link to HMP Liverpool wearing a grey Under Armour zip-up top, he shook his head and said "joke that you know" after being jailed for 14-and-a-half years.

Sentencing, Judge David Potter said: "The supply of class A drugs on whatever level is always a serious crime, but the levels involved in this case are very serious. I am sure you know only too well the destruction and misery caused by class A drugs.

"Put simply, drugs wreck the lives of users and turn them to substantial amounts of crime in order to fund their own habits. It massively impacts upon families who try to support their own family members who are in the grip of addiction.

"The community bears the impact of this trade and society ultimately picks up the human cost in terms of health, crime and ultimately the imprisonment of those convicted and sentenced. Your offences are made more serious by your previous offences.

"You had been released only a short while before becoming involved in these conspiracies. You learned seemingly nothing from that period in custody.

"You have clearly reflected heavily upon the last four years of your life, and I am sure that you now express genuine remorse for being involved in this trade. I am sure there is another side to you.

"When you are eventually released, the work you have done over the course of the last three-and-a-half years will be an encouraging sign to society in the future that you will be a more productive member of it rather than reverting back straight away to organised crime. It is entirely in your hands."

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