Huyton man jailed after criminal encrochat service cracked
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A Huyton man is the second in Merseyside to be jailed as part of an international operation targeting criminals who use the 'encrochat' communications system to carry out serious and organised crime.
Jordan Hughes, 30, was jailed today (Thursday 4 February) for 12 years, after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply multi-kilos of heroin and cocaine using couriers and specifically adapted stash vehicles with other encro handles.
He is the second person to be sentenced after the operation involving European law enforcement agencies working with the NCA and supported across the UK by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units.
Yesterday (Wednesday 3 February) James Duckworth, 42 years, was jailed for 16-and-a-half years for his part in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin around the UK.
The operation 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.
After an extensive investigation, Hughes was arrested at home on 19 August 2020.
Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said: “We welcome today’s sentencing which shows once again how seriously police and the courts take those who seek to profit from the misery of others by dealing drugs.
“Hughes, and many others like him, thought that by using encrypted devices they could evade justice. Today’s result shows in no uncertain terms that he was wrong.
“He isn't the first - and certainly won’t be the last in Merseyside - to face a significant period of time in jail thanks to the efforts of detectives who cracked the mobile encryption service these criminals used.
“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.”
Det Insp Wilkinson added: “Merseyside Police has a proven track record in dealing robustly with individuals responsible for the wholesale supply of illegal drugs both locally and across the country. These people often use violence, including guns and knives, to protect their business interests, as well as exploiting young and vulnerable people and bringing fear and intimidation to the communities they live and operate in.
“We always stay one step ahead of these criminals and just as they have adapted how they operate, so have we. As well as having officers on the streets to disrupt criminals with warrants, stop searches and other activity, many officers and staff work behind the scenes to tackle to trend for using encrypted devices to try to evade detection. The cracking of this service has already led to dozens of arrests here in Merseyside arrested for various offences including drugs and firearms supply and money laundering, and seen huge quantities of cash and drugs seized, and will lead to more.
“This work with the National Crime Agency and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and crime enforcement partners across Europe shows nobody is infallible and when we come together, we can stop criminals in their tracks when they least expect it.
“Around 60,000 users of encrochat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the UK – all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering and other criminal activity.
“Merseyside and many areas of the UK are safer thanks to the fact that Hughes and others like him have been caught, and I want to reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will continue to target anyone involved in serious organised crime to make our communities safer.”