Drug kingpin Michael Hailwood, who was released halfway into his 22-year jail sentence in 2019 was served another 16-year prison term Friday after being caught in another drug trafficking operation just months after his early release from prison. The 51-year-old wasted no time and climbed right back into the EncroChat underworld and was arrested once again in June 2020 during a joint investigation between the French and Dutch authorities.

According to Daily Mail, Hailwood had been overseeing smuggling operations of cocaine into Britain valued at £10 million ($13 million) while holding base operations in Amsterdam when he was first arrested in 2010. He was handed a 22-year sentence but was released in 2019. Shortly after his release, he linked up with a Merseyside operation running the drug trade between Ellesmere Port and Cheshire.

The EncroChat, which is a communications platform used in the underworld for criminal conversations, was infiltrated by an international sting operation that enabled police to retrieve and unveil Hailwood from its thread of messages operating under the codename CardinalTrunk. Hailwood was arrested once again in June 2020 and remanded in custody.

Chester Crown Court judge Steven Everett sentenced Hailwood to 16 years last week after he admitted to conspiring in operations to supply cocaine and heroin. The judge made it clear to Hailwood that should he commit further serious drug trafficking offenses after serving time, he may never be released again.

Cheshire Police say that Hailwood was one of the most trusted members of the underworld as he would always chaperone his drug mules and drove transport vehicles to be used. The investigations on Hailwood’s drug smuggling activities had authorities monitoring his movements since November 2006 in an operation codenamed, Greengage.

Investigators soon realized the extensive reach of the drug ring with the group said to be operating across England, Scotland, and Europe strands that were already under the close watch of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency (SCDEA).

Operation Greengage was notably a complex and long-drawn-out investigation that required thorough work and endless hours from its team operatives. Since then, one of the largest and most sophisticated organized crime groups in the UK and mainland Europe was dismantled. Hailwood pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

Representational image of cocaine and marijuana
U.S. Coast Guard personnel walk among wrapped packages of cocaine and marijuana on the deck of the Cutter James before offloading them at Port Everglades on February 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Coast Guard offloaded 54,500 pounds of cocaine and 15,800 pounds of marijuana from multiple Eastern Pacific and the Caribbean Sea interdictions. The drugs were worth approximately $1.06 billion. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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