Encrochat hack is picking big names in underworld off one by one

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Established names within Liverpool's underworld have now been jailed as a result of the penetration of the EncroChat phone network.

Criminals across Europe relied on the encrypted phone network to sell drugs and conspire with their associates.

But when French police located the network's servers in the French city of Roubaix in 2019 they were able to penetrate the system.

Detectives were soon able to read the messages being sent by some of Europe's more well known criminals, and the data was quickly shared with the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA.)

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The information led to a wave of police raids across Merseyside, with senior detectives describing the operation as unprecedented.

Now a number of very well known drug dealers across the city have been successfully prosecuted.

On Friday Jordan Alvis, 35, was jailed for nine years after he admitted conspiracy to supply ketamine and heroin and conspiracy to conceal criminal property.

The prosecution was a direct result of Operation Venetic, the code name for the police hack of the EncroChat network.

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The ECHO understands that the West Derby man, who used the EncroChat profile 'Laughingstorm', was a well known drug dealer.

Alvis was long associated with a criminal fraternity rooted in the West Derby and Huyton area of the city.

Last Monday Dean Deary, from Anfield, was also jailed as a result of Operation Venetic. Liverpool Crown court heard that Deary used his job as a recovery man as a veneer for his drug dealing.

When police raided Deary's home last year they found five kilos of up to 86% pure cocaine , which when cut could have had a street value of up to £500,000.

The ECHO understands that Deary was was well known 'grafter' in the north Liverpool criminal community, particularly in the Scotland Road area.

Deary admitted conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin, ketamine and cannabis.

Judge Trevor-Jones said Deary was a "trusted associate" of drug boss Steve Nicholls and told him: "You used your business as a cover."

Deary, of Pinehurst Avenue, was jailed for 12 years and eight months.

Video footage shared with the ECHO showed Deary appearing to boast about the quality of his drug supply.

In the film the north Liverpool criminal makes a reference to Charlie and can be seen snorting a white powder.

Police were aware of the footage but it was not used in the case against Deary.

During the sentencing at Liverpool Crown court Judge Trevor-Jones said Deary was a "trusted associate" of drug boss Steven Nicholls and told him: "You used your business as a cover."

Nicholls, of 41, of Ibbotson Lane Aigburth, was jailed for 16 years and eight months during the same hearing.

Jordan Alvis, 35, of Trent Close in West Derby.

The ECHO is also aware of a growing sense of apprehension in the criminal fraternity as some of the biggest names in the region's underworld have been compromised.

The hack appears to have snared individuals who appeared to have been beyond the reach of the law and were far removed from the street level crime they controlled.

Major trials are set to take place in which defendants are likely to argue that they not the individuals behind certain key EncroChat accounts, or they will dispute the meaning of the messages that were sent.

Some of these trials could be the most significant for the city since Toxteth gangster Curtis Warren appeared in Jersey charged with drug offences in 2009.

Curtis Warren before his appearance at the Royal Court in St Hellier, Jersey in 2009

Speaking on Friday, Merseyside Police Detective Sergeant Daniel Pilling said: “As part of Operation Venetic, Merseyside Police has so far arrested more than 120 people, many of whom have been charged with serious drug trafficking or firearms offences. This year will see a number of these people continuing to appear before the courts, and we welcome each and every one.

"Our message to other people who are involved in this type of criminality is clear: expect that knock at the door sooner rather than later.

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“Merseyside Police, along with law enforcement agencies across the world, will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of those people who think they are above the law, and we will continue to target anyone involved in serious organised crime to keep this positive momentum going.”

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