Three men have today, Friday 21 January, been jailed for a total of 48 years for their involvement in a Merseyside-wide Class A drugs and firearms conspiracy.
As part of an Encrochat investigation, it was established that between March and June 2020 Michael Hoy, 42, and Patrick Murray, 25, of Huyton, were involved in multi-kilo drugs deals of cocaine and heroin in the south Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens areas. Philip Moran, 51, Newton-le-Willows was employed by Murray as a drugs courier.
The court was told that Murray, who was attributed the Encrochat handle ‘Weirdgun’ also forwarded pictures of AK47 assault rifles, an UZI machine gun, pump action shotgun and Glock pistol to various handles including Hoy, who was attributed the handle ‘timelybeta’ and Moran who had the handle ‘Kepthawk’.
Murray later chatted with another handle about the importation of 50 Glock pistols from Holland to be distributed in Liverpool.
In January/February 2021 Hoy was evidenced meeting Murray and others who have been attributed to Encrochat handles and on 9 February last year, Hoy was evidenced taking drugs courier Keith Cooper into the Huyton Johns estate where 1kg of cocaine was passed. This courier was stopped and arrested a short time later with the cocaine in his car.
Encrochat data also evidenced Hoy brokering a deal with Murray for grenades for a third party and later asking for prices on firearms and ammunition.
Murray pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess explosives for an unlawful purpose, conspiracy to supply Class A drugs (cocaine), conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons and conspiracy to possess prohibited ammunition.
He was sentenced to 16 years.
Hoy was found guilty after a trial of conspiracy to possess explosives for an unlawful purpose; conspiracy to possess prohibited weapons and ammunition; and to supply cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamine and ketamine.
He was sentenced to 20 years.
Moran was found guilty after a trial of conspiring to possess prohibited weapons and ammunition; and to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis.
He was sentenced to 12 years.
The sentences are part of an operation involving European law enforcement agencies working with the NCA, and supported across the UK by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units.
The operation came about after law enforcement officials in Europe managed to crack the ‘Encrochat’ service being used by criminals involved in serious and organised crime to carry out their business.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Drew said, “These are significant sentences which reflect the extent of the conspiracy that these men were involved in.
“Our work remains ongoing on a daily basis to target the people responsible for serious and organised crime including drug supply and the use of firearms.
“These three men thought they were untouchable but thanks to the work of our officers they were brought to justice and will now spend a considerable amount of time behind bars.
“I can reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will continue its fight against those involved in serious organised crime to make our communities safer and I would ask people to continue to be our eyes and ears in their local neighbourhoods and let us know who is involved in drugs or criminality so that we can continue to take positive action.”