Two men who imported and distributed class A drugs worth over £6 million across Greater Manchester have been jailed for almost 30 years
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Yesterday, (26 October 2021) at Manchester Crown Court, Nathan Loftus (19/04/1983) of Wilton Drive, Bury and Sean Doyle (17/04/1991) of Wavertree Road, Blackley, were both jailed for a total of 29 years after pleading guilty to multiple offences including drugs.
The sentencing follows a 16 month long investigation - Operation Lushan - which forms part of the UK-wide Operation Venetic, focusing on the take down of the encrypted communications service Encrochat.
As part of the investigation police were made aware of two user handles on the service 'BIGMNINEE' being used by Loftus and 'MINORSPARK' being used by Doyle.
Messages between the two handles indicated that Loftus had recruited Doyle to act as a courier to transport drugs and money across the country. As part of this recruitment
Doyle was also supplied with a vehicle - a white Renault Kangoo - which contained a hidden compartment to hide items from police detection if the vehicle was stopped.
Often referred to as 'the driver' in messages, Doyle was well aware of his role within the organised crime group and was being financially rewarded for storing and delivering the drugs.
From detailed analysis of encrypted messages between March and June 2020 it was uncovered that Loftus had been in regular communication with multiple EncroChat users across Europe.
He regularly used the platform to arrange for multi-kilo drug importations to be brought in to the UK from Holland before arranging for the drugs to be disseminated to street level drug dealers across Greater Manchester.
Across the four month period of messages it was calculated that Loftus had purchased and imported 20 kilos of cocaine and 40 kilos of heroin. These were estimated to have a combined street value of £6 million.
The investigation culminated in a strike day on 11 March 2021 with officers executing warrants at Doyle's and Loftus' home addresses. Both men were arrested and subsequently charged.
In an attempt to avoid detection by police, Doyle stashed cash in a bag for life and threw this out of his bathroom window onto the roof. This was quickly recovered by officers and amounted to £348,000.
Nathan Loftus was jailed for 22 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import heroin and cocaine, possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life and money laundering.
Sean Doyle was jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and heroin, possession of criminal property and money laundering.
Detective Constable Chris Edwards of GMP's City of Manchester Challenger Team said: "This was a long and intricate investigation which saw a team of detectives spend months analysing these encrypted messages to enable us to piece together the web of criminality that Loftus and Doyle were both operating within.
"These two men, and particularly Loftus, were importing and distributing thousands of pounds worth of class A drugs across Greater Manchester and I have no doubt that by removing these two men from our streets we have been able to remove and disrupt a significant amount of class A drugs from our communities.
"The sentence handed to Loftus today is a huge success for GMP and a testament to the painstaking work our team of detectives have put in to this case and investigation. Drugs can have a devastating impact on both individuals and communities and GMP will always pursue and bring those who feel they can cause such destruction to justice."