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Three men caught facilitating criminal activity on an encrypted messaging service have been jailed.
Paul Dillon, 32, and Alexander Keating, 30, used EncroChat to discuss the transfer of a viable firearm and communicated with Dylan Garforth, 25, to supply class A and B drugs.
The trio were caught by detectives from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) after they were able to access the communications network that is used exclusively by criminals.
Dillion was sentenced to 18 years, Keating 22 years and five months and Garforth was given a 15 year sentence.
The bespoke service was cracked by international law enforcement in May 2020.
Keating pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply 30kg of high purity cocaine and large amounts of cannabis.
Dillon pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply 3kg of high purity cocaine, large amounts of ketamine and supplied over half a million pounds worth of cannabis.
Garforth pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply 10kg of high purity cocaine.
Dillon and Keating also admitted to conspiracy to transfer a firearm and were sentenced alongside Garforth on Wednesday 21 of April.
Dillion, of Norlands Park in Widnes, used the codename ‘Wasplawn’ to communicate with Keating, of Lunts Heath Road, Widnes, who used the handle ‘Dulltuna’ and ‘Wealthymace’. Garforth, of no fixed address, called himself ‘Dior-Ice’.
Detectives monitored their criminal communication and gathered evidence over a three-month period.
A warrant was executed at Dillion’s address on Tuesday 30 June 2020 and police seized almost £30,000 in cash.
On Thursday 15th October 2020 Keating and Garforth were arrested at Liverpool John Lennon Airport as they were about to travel to Spain.
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Evans, from Cheshire Constabulary’s SOCU, said: “These men were part of an organised crime group and involved in the supply and distribution of significant quantities of class A and class B drugs.
“They were well known to the local community for their sustained campaign of anti-social and criminal behaviour which began in their teenage years and progressed to the offences that they have now been convicted for.
“The amount of money found wrapped in bundles of up £10,000 at Dillon’s home provides an insight into how much profit was being earned and how the transfer of a viable firearm was also involved in this criminality.
“The encrypted device was previously perceived as being an untouchable way of communicating freely about criminality without being detected by police. Once it was cracked by law enforcement it meant those using it would find it almost impossible to deny their involvement in serious and organised crime.”