Operation Venetic: Two Merseyside men behind bars in latest Encrochat sting
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Two men from Merseyside have been jailed in the latest coup to catch drug dealers operating on the dark web.
Kevin Daniels, 40 years, of Linkside Road in Woolton and Ashur Rasamuel Thomas, 38 years, of Osborne Road, Birkenhead were sentenced yesterday (15 December) in two separate cases at Liverpool Crown Court.
Daniels was sentenced to 10 years and 8 months for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
While Thomas received 10 years and 6 months imprisonment with conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs.
Both arrests were was part of the Merseyside Police response to Operation Venetic: an international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service, commonly referred to as Encrochat, in an attempt to evade detection.
Daniels, who is a roofer by trade, used the Encrochat handle ‘Exoticape, and detectives discovered that he was responsible for collecting, holding, counting and distributing cash on behalf of other Encrochat users in excess of £1.5 million in dealings. It was also evidenced that on one occasion he was responsible for collecting and distributing 44 kilos of cocaine.
Detectives discovered Thomas was using a number of different handles including ‘Wordybike’, ‘Pretty’ and ‘Ash’ while carrying out his crimes. He was identified from his fingerprints after sharing an image on his Encro device of him holding a cannabis reefer in his hand. He was found to play a leading role to produce multiple quantities of cocaine on a commercial basis.
Thomas entered a guilty plea at an earlier court hearing and admitted to supplying 6kg of cocaine.
Detective Inspector Mike Dalton said: “This a really good result, and as you can see from the Operation Venetic convictions taken place in last few weeks’ we are making good progress by exposing criminals who lay under the radar and bringing them to justice.
“Our operation doesn’t just affect serious organised crime taking place at the higher end, but it is also reaching down to street level drug deals and county lines operations.
“Ultimately people in our communities are seeing a positive difference in their neighbourhood and making it a safer place to live.
“I think this sends a clear message to criminals that crime doesn’t pay – we’ll continue to be relentless in our pursuit of offenders.”
Anyone with information is asked to DM @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111.