A man from West Yorkshire has been convicted of firearms and drugs offences as part of a National Crime Agency investigation.

Carl O’Flaherty, aged 35, of Leysolme Terrace, Leeds, appeared at Leeds Crown Court yesterday (Monday), where he pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply class A drugs, possessing two illegal firearms, possessing  firearms without  certificates, and possession of ammunition.

He is next due to appear at Leeds Crown Court on 10 August.

O’Flaherty was arrested on 14 June by NCA officers following the seizure of two firearms in April.

The investigation stems from Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response targeting the encrypted communications platform Encrochat.

Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations for the North, said: “This early guilty plea is testament to the hard work of our officers, with the support of partners here and overseas.  

“Two extremely dangerous firearms and 200 rounds of ammunition were taken out of circulation. We know that these weapons are used to intimidate, cause fear, and incite serous violence in our communities.”

Four others have been apprehended in connection with this investigation.

On Tuesday 14 April, Paul Shepherd, aged 42, of Stainbeck Lane, Leeds, was stopped in his car by West Yorkshire Police officers. Following a search of the car Class A drugs were found and he was arrested. 

Officers searching his home recovered two firearms – a Glock semi-automatic pistol and a Howa bolt-action rifle – as well as 200 rounds of ammunition and small quantities of cannabis and crack cocaine.

Shepherd was charged with the possession of a firearm and class A drugs and was remanded to prison. His trial is due to start in October at Leeds Crown Court.

On 19 June, a 39-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply firearms at an address on Ring Road, Cross Gates, Leeds, and was released under investigation.

Another man, aged 35, was arrested on 24 June in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, on suspicion of conspiracy to supply firearms. He has been released under investigation.

On 9 July a 32-year-old man from Merseyside was arrested by NCA officers – with support from Merseyside Police – on suspicion of possession of an illegal firearm and handling stolen goods at an address in Kirkby. He has been released under investigation.

14 July 2020