Wirral man jailed for 16 years in Encrochat drugs sting

A Wirral man has been jailed today (Friday, 3 December) after being identified using a photo he took of his own hand holding a bag of drugs. 

George Marsh, of Birkenhead, was sentenced today at Liverpool Crown Court to 16 years imprisonment.  

In September he had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and ketamine at Liverpool Crown Court.  

His arrest in June was 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. 

Upon his arrest police searched his container in Birkenhead and found nearly £83,000 of cash. 

Marsh used the Encrochat handles ‘Sneakystem’ and ‘Wackysilver’ to supply multi-kilo quantities of Class A and B drugs to various locations across the UK, and his device was found to contain photographs of cocaine worth a street value of around £750,000 plus. 

He was identified after sharing an image on his Encro device of his own hand holding a bag of drugs, from which his fingerprints were analysed.  

Marsh was a co-conspirator of Bradley Luxton, from Upton, Wirral, who was jailed for 16 years in August after pleading guilty to three counts of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, two counts of conspiracy to supply Class B drugs and converting criminal property. 

Detective Inspector Mike Dalton said, “Marsh is the latest to be put behind bars as part of our ongoing investigation into the supply of Class A and B drugs on Merseyside. 

“Not only have we disrupted a chain of supply, we have also removed a huge quantity of drugs destined for our streets and further afield. 

“At Operation Venetic, we have enjoyed considerable success in arresting and convicting people and this work will continue. 

“I would ask anyone who has any information about who is supplying or selling drugs in their area to contact us so we can take action.” 

Marsh and Luxton’s sentencing is 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. 

Also appearing in the dock for sentencing under Operation Venetic is Kevin Baker, 36 years, from Huyton and Michael Morson, 32 years, also from Huyton. 

Baker was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cannabis resin following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court last month. 

He used the Encrochat handle ‘Sun-Viking’, and Encro data 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.  

Baker will be sentenced on 4 January 2022 at Liverpool Crown Court. 

Morson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin and conspiracy to supply cannabis resin. He used the Encrochat handle ‘Luckysea’ and when he was arrested officers found 20kg of cannabis along with £25,000 in cash, two Rolex watches, designer clothes and handbags.  

A date for sentencing has yet to be set at Liverpool Crown Court. 

Anyone with information is asked to DM @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

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