Three men involved in the distribution and supply of multiple kilos of cocaine across the North West have been jailed.
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Three men from Greater Manchester and Lancashire have been jailed after it was uncovered they were involved with an organised crime group in Greater Manchester and supplying multiple kgs of class A and B drugs across the region.
In June 2020 a nationwide operation led by the National Crime Agency - Operation Venetic - saw law enforcement agencies across the UK join together and share expertise in order to break through Encrochat - a highly sophisticated and encrypted global communication service.
Data packs were processed by the NCA and allocated to various law enforcement agencies for local investigation. During this time GMP's Serious Organised Crime Group (SOCG) received data relating to three encrochat users: 'Reebokone' being used by Stuart Anderson (24/07/81), 'Cactusone' belonging to Tony Mendes (21/05/88) and 'Freerolextwo' belonging to Jordan Dobbie (12/06/90).
Following intricate analysis of messages between March and June 2020 detectives were able to identify who was using each handle and it was soon realised all three men were involved in the supply and distribution of multi-kilos of cocaine and cannabis across the North West region.
Anderson was enlisted as a drugs courier for the OCG and was provided with a Mercedes van which had been fitted with a sophisticated hide enabling him to transport large amounts of cash and drugs undetected.
He would receive the names of customers via Encrochat and before making contact with the customer to arrange a time and location for the drop off. Anderson would also occasionally be responsible for receiving the cash from customers which he would then count and package up before reporting back to the leader of the OCG, who detectives believe to be overseas. Anderson's wage was based per kilo of drugs he delivered.
Tony Mendes was enlisted as the cash courier and he too was in possession of a van with a hide, allowing him to pass by undetected from police.
Mendes' sole responsibility was to collect cash from various the customers that had collected drugs from Anderson and he, like Anderson, would await instructions on who to contact and then arrange a time and a location for the trade.
During the four month period both Anderson and Mendes are believed to have handled a minimum of 15kg in drugs and £450,000 in cash however COVID clearly restricted the volume of commodity they were able to move. COVID also affected the price for a of Cocaine, which reached £45,000 per kilo at one point.
Dobbie was a customer of the OCG and would regularly request kilos of cocaine to supply to his customer base in Burnley. Once the drugs had been secured he would then make contact with Mendes and Anderson to arrange collection of the drugs and payment before supplying to his customers. He would also often brag during chats via his encro phone with his associates about the lavish purchases he had made as a result of the proceeds.
Analysis of the messages highlighted a 'token' system the group would use when larger transactions were taking place. This system, to avoid the drugs being intercepted by other OCG's, used a serial number on a £5 note to verify that the correct recipient of the drugs was the other person at the transaction.
The messages also illustrated the fear felt by both Anderson and Mendes during the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly the lack of traffic on the roads across the UK. This resulted in lengthy discussions between the group, suggesting various different methods for transporting the drugs and cash from A to B, including wearing legitimate work uniforms.
The investigation culminated in the arrests of both Mendez and Anderson of 16 June 2020 and Dobbie on 30 June 2020. During all three arrests, around £160,000 worth of cash, counting machines, vehicles with hides, designer clothing and jewellery and encrypted phones were recovered.
Yesterday (1 February 2022) at Minshull Street Crown Court, Anderson of Boardshaw Clough, Middleton was jailed for 11 years, 10 months, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis as well as money laundering.
Mendes of Madenfold Way, Burnley was jailed for 10 years, 6 months, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis as well as money laundering and Dobbie of Leigh Park, Burnley, was jailed for 12 years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and money laundering.
Detective Constable Lee Coulson, of GMP's Serious Organised Crime Group, said: "Following four months of investigative work and intricate analysis of the Encrochat data our detectives were able to identify all three men as the people behind the usernames. Both Anderson and Mendes were engrained in a highly sophisticated OCG and drugs operation that was servicing a large amount of Class A drugs to multiple customers across the North West region.
"Messages clearly showed they were regularly transporting several kilo's of cocaine across the region and thankfully we have been able to disrupt and dismantle this chain of criminality.
"These men now face a considerable amount of time behind bars and that serves as testament to the hard work and determination of all the officers involved who have committed endless hours to the investigation. This type of activity is not welcome within our communities and I hope today's result sends a stark warning that we will do all that we can to ensure all those responsible are identified and face justice."