Man jailed for 15 years after using EncroChat to supply large quantities of class A drugs
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Stephen Christian, previously of Roscommon Way in Widnes, was found to have used the encrypted messaging service to engage in conversations with other criminal associates around the organisation and for the onward supply of cocaine.
The 43-year-old was sentenced on Friday 19 March at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to conspiracy to supply cocaine.
Christian’s encrypted data was analysed by detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) from May 2020 to 1 July 2020, after it was cracked by international law enforcement.
Under the user name ‘Tribal-Quest’ he negotiated prices for 12 kilograms of cocaine from criminals who were involved in importing bulk amounts.
On one occasion on 22 May 2020 he travelled to Blackpool to collect a large amount of money from an associate he was speaking to on EncroChat.
After detectives had gathered evidence, on 1 July 2020 Christian was arrested and his two addresses, one on Roscommon Way in Widnes and another on Roseheath Drive in Halewood, were searched.
A search of Roscommon Way led to police seizing designer clothing, shoes and a Rolex watch, as well as almost £3,000 in cash and eight mobile phones.
Christian was then cautioned and subsequently charged.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Evans, from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “This is a significant sentence resulting solely from detectives analysing telecoms data over a two-month period under the codename Operation Venetic.
“Christian was a well-established organised criminal who supplied multi-kilograms of class A drugs which he profited from and led to him living a lavish lifestyle.
“He used this service to speak openly about his criminality believing it to be safe and secure. It means the evidence was so strong that he had no choice but to admit to his involvement in the conspiracy.”