Two Knowsley men were jailed yesterday (Tuesday, 4 January) in the latest conviction targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service in an attempt to evade detection.
Michael Morson, 32 years, of Huyton and Kevin Baker, 36 years, also of Huyton appeared at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.
Morson pleaded guilty and received eight years and seven months for conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
While Baker was found guilty by a jury and convicted after trial. He was sentenced to four years for conspiracy to supply cannabis.
Both offenders worked together to supply multi kilos of drugs across the north west and Midlands.
They were arrested in April as part of Merseyside Police response to Operation Venetic: an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service, commonly referred to as Encrochat, in an attempt to evade detection.
Morson used the Encrochat handle ‘Luckysea’ and when he was arrested officers found 20kg of cannabis resin worth around £70,000 along with £25,000 in cash, two Rolex watches, designer clothes and handbags.
Encrochat data revealed that he purchased a van adapted to transport dogs which had a secret compartment to stash drugs and distribute across the north west and beyond. Photographs of a fishing trip helped ensnare Morson’s criminal activities.
However, Baker denied using the Encrochat handle ‘Sun-Viking’, but Encro data evidence put to the jury showed he was involved in the supply of 58 kg of cannabis. On the day of arrest police found £2,500 in cash at his address.
Speaking about the case Detective Constable Paul Kerr said, “These sentencing under Operation Venetic is the latest in a long line of convictions secured thanks to the mountain of evidence our officers have been able to produce.
“Despite Baker claiming his innocence of the crime, the jury found him guilty with evidence against him so strong and we were able to identify him through family member and locations.
“We seized a substantial amount of cash and high value items from Morson when he was arrested, and Encrochat messages revealed that he regularly transported £125,000 of cash to Bolton as part of his drugs operation.”
Anyone with information is asked to DM @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111.