Wirral men amongst 31 jailed for total of 366 years for encrochat drug crime

A year ago news of Operation Venetic and the takedown of Encrochat (a mobile encryption service exploited by criminals involved in serious organised crime across the UK and Europe) became public.

And since then UK police forces, led by the NCA, have been working on identifying the criminals who were using the service for their ill-gotten gains.

Here on Merseyside detectives have been working diligently with the NCA and North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and as a result we are now able to show the significant impact this operation has had on serious organised criminality in Merseyside.

Since last July Merseyside Police has:
• Arrested 133 people
• Charged 101 people
• Seized 4 loaded firearms and ammunition
• Seized 72 kgs of cocaine and heroine
• Seen 31 people convicted to a total of 366 years in prison
• £1.6M in cash

And this is just the beginning with more activity and arrests to come in the coming months. Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Kameen, head of Investigation, explains, “Operation Venetic has had a huge impact on serious organised crime here on Merseyside. We have always been relentless in our pursuit of those involved in serious organised crime, but the Venetic gave us an added insight into those involved in this type of criminality and has opened up new avenues for us in terms of investigation and disruption.

“Operation Venetic is the biggest operation of its kind in the UK so far. Globally 60,000 users were identified worldwide and about 10,000 of them were in the UK and the use of the encryption service was purely for coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering and other criminal activity.

“The results we have achieved so far are just the tip of the iceberg. We are still working on Venetic to target and dismantle other criminal networks identified as part of this operation and in the next 12 to 18 months I expect to see further results that will put a real in dent in organised crime on Merseyside. Arrest packages are being put together on a daily basis and if you are involved in serious organised crime you can expect a knock on your door in the coming weeks and months, as we haven’t finished yet.

“We will also proactively look at ill-gotten gains and will seize assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) when we can to ensure that offenders aren’t benefitting from their criminal activity. When we seize cash under POCA, we get a portion of that cash back and we are then able to invest money into our communities to assist with diversionary activities and activities being carried out by community groups to reduce crime and bring stronger cohesion.”

He added, “Serious Organised Crime has a profound negative impact on our communities, whether it be through the drugs and violence that bring misery to our streets, the guns that can seriously injure or kill, cybercrime which can infiltrate people’s homes, or the exploitation of our vulnerable members of the community, particularly children involved in County Lines.

“I can also reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will continue its fight against those involved in serious organised crime to make our communities safer.

Nikki Holland, Director of Investigations at the National Crime Agency, said, “Merseyside Police, along with other UK forces, are a key partner for the NCA in our collective fight against organised crime and the misery it inflicts on our communities.

“Merseyside’s achievements during the last 12 months are really significant. We will keep working together to protect the region’s public along with the rest of the UK.”

Detective Superintendent Paul Denn from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) said, “Since the takedown of ‘EncroChat’ twelve months ago, our officers have continued to work together with our six North West police forces, to identify the criminals who were using the encrypted devices to carry out their illegal activity.

“Tackling serious and organised crime, and those who cause the most harm to our communities in the North West remains our top priority here at the NWROCU, and we will continue use all our specialist tactics to disrupt these dangerous offenders operating across our region.

“Since last July more than 400 people have been arrested across the North West and more than £16 million pounds in cash and 400kg of Class A and B drugs seized as part of Operation Venetic.

“I can reassure communities across the North West that we will leave no stone unturned – we will continue to interpret, analyse and share intelligence and data to target and dismantle the most hardened criminals in our region.”

Those sentenced are:

Daniel Wilson, 33 years, of Silverbeech Road, Wallasey, was sentenced to 7 years and 8 months after pleading guilty to supplying cocaine, heroin and cannabis and conspiracy to convert criminal property in relation to the proceeds of his crimes. He also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Steven Strachan, 49, of School Lane, Bidston, was sentenced to six years in prison. Strachan was convicted of a conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs.
Michael Burns of 38, of Plymyard Avenue, Wirral, was sentenced to 12 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs.
26-year-old Michael Townsend of Grant Road, Huyton was sentenced to six years in prison at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday 9 February. Townsend was convicted of conspiracy to supply cannabis and acquire/use/possess criminal property.
James Duckworth, 42 years, of Langdale Close, Kirkby, was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine. He was the first to be sentenced on Merseyside as part of Operation Venetic
Jordan Hughes, 30 years of Huyton, was sentenced to 12 years after pleading guilty to conspiring to supplying multi-kilos of heroin and cocaine.
Shaun Done, 25, of Beech Road, Huyton was sentenced to seven years, nine months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis and conspiracy to acquire/use/possess criminal property.
Thomas Brabbins, 28, of Cherry Tree Road, Huyton, was sentenced to seven years six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiracy to supply cannabis; possession of cannabis with intent to supply ; two counts of possession of criminal property and possession of cannabis.
Adam Lonerghan, 30 years of Rydal Avenue, Prescot, was sentenced to 11 years eight months for conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin. 
Ryan Mulcahy, 29, of Maregreen Road, Everton,  was sentenced to six years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to possess/convert/acquire criminal property.
Liam Hughes, 24, of Robson Street, Everton, was sentenced to 14 years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs (cocaine and heroin);  conspiracy to supply Class B drugs (cannabis and conspiracy to possess/convert/acquire criminal property.  
Anthony Connolly, 29, of Ellerman Road, Liverpool, was sentenced to 14 years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs (cocaine and heroin); conspiracy to supply Class B drugs (cannabis); and conspiracy to possess/convert/acquire criminal property.
Brian Marshall, 46, of Robson Street,  Everton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs – cocaine, and was sentenced to 10 years
Jack Pritchard, 29, of Mavis Drive, Coppull, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A Drugs – cocaine, and was sentenced to 10 years
39-year-old Christopher Perryman of Gloucester Road, Huyton, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Steven Nicholls, 41, of Ibbotson Lane, Aigburth, was sentenced to 16 years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arsons with intent; conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiracy to supply heroin, and transferring criminal property.
Dean Deary, 39, of Pinehurst Avenue, Anfield, was sentenced to 12 years and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis. 
Carl Stewart, 39, of Gem Street, Liverpool was sentenced to 13 years and six months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiracy to supply heroin; conspiracy to supply MDMA; conspiracy to supply ketamine and transferring criminal property. He was identified after sharing an image on his encro device of a block of cheese in the palm of his hand, from which his fingerprints were analysed
David Williams, 39, of Limekiln Lane, Vauxhall, was jailed for 13-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Gavin Jones, 42, of Houlgrove Road, Vauxhall was jailed for 14 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
Philip Dearden, 31, of Kent Road, St Helens, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis. 
Mark Dumbell, 30, of Warrington Road, Prescot, was sentenced to 16 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and ketamine.
Shaun Harrison, 33, of South Street, Thatto Heath, was sentenced to 10 years eight months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.
Stephen Taylor, 33 years, of Norlands Park, Widnes, was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for 12 years eight months for conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and conspiracy to conceal criminal property. 
Chris Dentith, 29 years, of College View, Huyton, was sentenced to 17 years three months after pleading guilty to supply cocaine and ecstasy.
Jordan Quinn, 31, of Valiant Close, West Derby, was sentenced to 14 years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; heroin and ketamine and possession of criminal property.
Jordan Alvis, 35, of Trent Close, West Derby, was sentenced to nine years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply ketamine and heroin and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.
Sam Lewis, 30 years, of Mardale Road, Huyton, was sentenced to 12 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and ketamine.
Jack Stanley Jones, 27, of Hey Park in Huyton, was sentenced to 16-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiracy to supply heroin; conspiracy to supply MDMA; conspiracy to supply cannabis; conspiracy to supply methamphetamine; importation of Class A controlled drugs into UK; importation of a Class B controlled drugs into UK; conspiracy to produce cannabis; conspiracy to convert criminal property for playing a leading role in drug importation, which saw police seize 18kg of cocaine concealed in children’s Duplo boxes of lego.
Isaac Rasmussen, 28, from Heath Road Widnes, previously from the Huyton area was sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; conspiring to fraudulently evade  prohibition on the import of Class A drugs and conspiring to fraudulently evade a prohibition on the import of Class B drugs.
Paul Jones, 43, of Lincombe Road, Roby, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine; possession with intent to supply a Class A drug; possession of cannabis; possession of criminal property and conspiring to fraudulently evade a prohibition on the import of Class A drugs
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