Two men jailed for more than 25 years for class A drugs conspiracy
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Two men were jailed yesterday (Tuesday 14 June) after another successful prosecution brought as part of the Merseyside Police response to Operation Venetic: the national investigation into the use of encrypted mobile devices, commonly referred to as Encrochat.
In May 2020, Robert Wood, 58, of Stamfordham Drive, Garston, was arrested in his car in possession of £14,635 in cash and an encro device was recovered.
Just after his arrest Darren Nelson, 31, of Whitfield Road, Walton, was seen to attend at the address Wood shared with his partner Maureen Gallagher where he recovered a quantity of cocaine from the address and spoke with Gallagher.
Gallagher, 61, was then observed placing a large bag into the boot of her Mercedes car and driving away. She was stopped a short time later and found in possession of over £58,000 in cash.
A search of an outbuilding at the rear of Wood and Gallagher’s address revealed that it was well equipped for the storage and processing of drugs with a large freezer containing 6kg of amphetamine, a number of electronic scales and a vacuum packing machine. Wood and Gallagher were released on bail for further enquiries.
Following extensive enquiries, in April 2021, officers arrested Nelson, Woods and Gallagher for conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
Examination of the data from the encrypted phones that Nelson, who was the user of the device/handle ‘excellentwolf’ and ‘thirteenlucky’ and Wood, who used the handle ‘powewhale’ had been using revealed that they had been responsible for moving multiple kilogram quantities of Class A drugs around the UK.
Nelson had been involved in a conspiracy to supply over 20kg of cocaine, 7kg of heroin, and 56 kg of amphetamine and had 322 encro handles stored as contacts on his encrypted device.
Wood had been involved in a conspiracy to supply over 10kg of cocaine, 6kg of heroin, and 42kg of amphetamine.
Nelson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamine, and MDMA as well as money laundering.
He was jailed for 15 years, nine months.
Wood pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, cannabis, amphetamine, and MDMA as well as money laundering.
He was jailed for nine years, 11 months.
Gallagher pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply amphetamine and money laundering. She was sentenced at a previous hearing in January to two years, suspended for two years. The sentences are part of an operation involving European law enforcement agencies working with the NCA, and supported across the UK by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units.
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.
Detective Inspector Peter McCullough said: “The jailing of people who continue to peddle drugs and cause misery on the streets of Merseyside is continuing on almost daily basis.
“These people think they are above the law and can continue to ply their illicit trade and profit from their crimes.
“I am pleased that through a detailed and thorough investigation we managed to secure evidence to put them behind bars for a number of years.
“Our work will go on and others are waiting to hear their fate in court.
“I would ask our communities to continue to support us in our efforts to get these people off our streets and behind bars where they belong."