The £16m drug smuggler

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A WIGAN man was appearing at the Old Bailey today accused of involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling operation.

Liam Patrick Dooney was arrested on the concourse of London Euston railway station by specialist police officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) on May 11 as he waited for a train home after enjoying watching Wigan Athletic win the FA Cup Final.

The 40-year-old’s detention followed the discovery of a major haul of the Class A drug in a shipping container newly arrived at Tilbury Docks. It is believed that the steel box, which had originated in South America, contained hundreds of kilos of high grade cocaine with a street value in excess of £16m.

Dooney, who lives in Wakefield Crescent in Standish, has now been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine.

He is currently in custody at Wandsworth Prison in South London where he has been arraigned since he was remanded after appearing at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 13.

His next case hearing is likely to be in July. However Dooney was due to make a bail application hearing at The Old Bailey later today.

Dooney has been a director of the family-owned Wigan Storage Company, which is based on Miry Lane off Wallgate, for the past 15 years.

Neighbouring firms have reported what are believed to have been plain clothes officers arriving at the firm to search the premises last week.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency has declined to discuss the amount of cocaine allegedly found at the Essex docks or to give other details for “operational reasons.”

It is understood that the container arrived from Argentina.