Op Venetic: man jailed for 17 years for importing and supplying drugs
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A 45-year-old man from West Derby has become the latest in Merseyside to be jailed as part of Operation Venetic – an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service to try to evade detection.
Michael Devine, of Pete Best Drive, West Derby, was jailed for 17 years, 3 months at Liverpool Crown Court today (Monday 23 August) after pleading guilty to being concerned in the importation and supply of Class A and B drugs (cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamine).
Devine used the encrochat handle ‘Lawfularbor’ to import and distribute large quantities of drugs from his home.
On encrochat, Devine discussed using airfields and light aircraft, using false mayday landings to import drugs into the UK as well as plotting the same in concealments in boats.
Devine was also evidenced importing 8 kilos of cocaine into the UK last year as a UPS delivery disguised as car parts.
He was arrested by Merseyside Police in July this year and later charged.
So far, the ongoing work of Operation Venetic to unmask drug dealers using encrochat devices has seen more than 140 arrests, 112 charged and 37 people being sentenced to a total of more than 420 years in prison across Merseyside.
Investigations continue to recoup ill-gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and so far we have recovered £1.8 million in cash, 110kg of cocaine and heroin, and four firearms with ammunition.
Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said: “Today we have seen another sentencing as part of national Operation Venetic, which 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.
“Devine was supplying large amounts of illegal drugs and generating vast profits in doing so. He will now perhaps take time to reflect on the risks he took and the harm he caused, while serving his significant jail time.
"Our work to track these criminals down and bring down serious and organised criminal groups remain ongoing. To those who we haven’t got to yet, our message is clear … expect the knock at the door.
“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.”