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‘Teflon’ drugs boss with £250k watch is jailed for 20 years

Craig McKenzie

A drugs boss who had a £250,000 watch has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after a National Crime Agency investigation.

Craig McKenzie, 41, conspired to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis from the Netherlands, Spain and North America. He was a well-known offender in the North West of England.

McKenzie, of Hatchmere Close, Cheadle Hulme, Greater Manchester, used runners to move his drugs to customers who were mainly based in Liverpool and Manchester but were also as far afield as Wales and London.

Evidence suggested he sent money from his drugs sales to notorious offenders in Spain and the United Arab Emirates through money laundering channels.

McKenzie, who was jailed today (Mon 23 Oct) at Manchester Crown Court after being convicted by a jury, enjoyed a flashy lifestyle which to outward appearances he had earned through his property business ‘Teflon Holdings’.

Despite only have a declared income of around £33,000 in 2021, he wore the £250,000 Richard Mille RM11-03 rose gold titanium watch, drove a brand new BMW X5 and a VW Tiguan R-Line. When NCA officers raided his house they also found £128,000 worth of designer goods and clothing and £33,000 in cash.

Proceeds of Crimes Act proceedings have begun against him and £1.5m of assets have been restrained.

McKenzie was arrested in February 2022 by NCA officers investigating high-end drug dealing conducted through the EncroChat encrypted communications platform.

The EncroChat platform was taken down in 2020 and Operation Venetic, the UK law enforcement response led by the NCA was launched.

Investigators waded through 11,043 messages between McKenzie’s ‘Manlydesert’ handle and his conspirators going from March 2020 to June 2020.

They showed that McKenzie – who was acquitted of murder in December 2011 – had established close ties with prolific, wanted, international criminals and these relationships bought him access to other criminal conspiracies unfolding in the UK and overseas.

McKenzie was convicted of conspiring to supply 45kg of cocaine and 14kg of heroin with a joint street value of £5m, and 90kg of cannabis with a street value of £900,000.

During the three-month period in 2020, McKenzie also laundered approximately £400,000.

He has 18 separate convictions from 26 offences starting in 1996 when he was convicted of robbery at age 13.

He was accused of murdering Amran Khan, aged 29, over a heroin debt in 2009 but was cleared after telling the jury he had nothing to do with drugs and was a car dealer. Two co-accused were convicted of the murder.

Dean Wallbank, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “Craig McKenzie was under the belief that he was untouchable and was arrogant to the point that he called one of his cover businesses Teflon Holdings as he believed that none of his crimes would stick to him.

“My officers built an overwhelming case that showed McKenzie was a commercial-scale drugs boss who had international criminal contacts and who used his business as cover.

“Operation Venetic is the UK’s deepest and broadest penetration of serious and organised crime ever and has led to the convictions of offenders like McKenzie who had previously gone under the radar.

“The NCA will continue to do all we can at home and abroad to tackle criminals who supply Class A drugs and bring huge harm to our communities.”