He was the drugs boss with suspected links to Southampton who boasted he could make £30,000 a week.

Now Richard Weld has been forced to hand over assets totalling almost £400,000, including 12 vehicles and £70,000 of designer clothes and watches.

It comes after he was jailed for 19 years after a major investigation by Merseyside police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Weild, 40, of Wallasey, Merseyside, operated on the former encrypted communications platform EncroChat under the name Blacklable.

He had more than 50 criminal contacts and is thought to have supplied gangs in cities across the country, including Southampton.

His EncroChat messages indicated that some of the groups used highway maintenance vehicles and removal trucks as a disguise, enabling them to move around freely during lockdown restrictions.

Weild owned a motor company in Wavertree, Liverpool, and posed as a legitimate businessman.

Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court in January 2022 he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA, 2-CB and cannabis, plus transferring criminal property.

But his sentencing was delayed until March last year after he sacked five different defence barristers.

Now, after a Proceeds of Crime Act investigation, Weild will lose his current available assets of £379,016 after a confiscation order was granted at the same court.

The assets include two properties in Wallasey and Wavertree, 12 vehicles, and £70,000 of designer clothes and watches.

The court determined that Weild’s total criminal benefit was £3,969,927.

NCA senior manager Ian Thomas said: “Richard Weild was a crucial player in the drugs trade and helped crime groups bolster their profits by bulking cocaine.

"Money is the ultimate driving factor for offenders like Weild, so we have gone after his assets to ensure he is punished in every appropriate way.

“Offenders who traffick and peddle drugs around the UK do not care in the slightest about the violence they bring to our communities, they do not care about the lives that are destroyed through addiction."

Police have released examples of EncroChat messages in which Weild bragged about how much money he was making.

One of the messages said: "If i carry on making tops [cocaine] for people an get this weed parcel again I'll have life changing money”.

Another added: "I am happy cracking on I can make 30k a week sometimes no hassle”.