Encrochat drug dealers and their associates are known for their bizarre nicknames.
The software which is used by gangsters across Europe was seen as impenetrable – meaning many spoke freely of their antics on messages sent through the system.
But when the system was breached by police, in one of the biggest breakthroughs in the battle against organised crime, many dealers and drug rings were brought to their knees.
It has allowed police to read some of the darkest conversations across the European underworld – an arena in which some of Liverpool’s most prolific gangsters retain influence.
Merseyside was the Encrochat capital of the UK with hundreds of criminals here using secret handles.
These are some of the Encrochat nicknames to have come before the courts as dealers and their associated were prosecuted.
Earlier this week John Karl Southern, who used the Encrochat nickname ‘BigDunc’ was found to have supplied 3.8kg of cocaine, 76kg of cannabis and 3kg of ketamine between March 2020 and June 2020.
The 34-year-old, from Burscough Street, Ormskirk, plead not guilty to the offences however was found guilty after a trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison, on Tuesday, January 10.
Operation Venetic detectives said his dealings ran from a period of March 2019 through to June 2020 and in that time supplied ‘not less than 5kg of cocaine’ and ‘not less than 7kg of cannabis.’
David Williams, using the handle ‘LovelyGiant’ on secret messaging platform EncroChat, instructed his courier, who he referred to as a “key worker”, to pick up drugs from the user ‘SatinTown’ – aka Gavin Jones.
The 39-year-old also asked another contact “anyone selling an NHS badge” so his courier wouldn’t get stopped by police.
Williams was jailed for 13 years and six months
‘Wealthymace’ and ‘Dior Ice’
Two drug dealers involved in large scale cocaine supply were arrested as they tried to board a flight to Spain at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
Detectives from Cheshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) intercepted Alexander Keating, 30, and Dylan Garforth, 25, on Thursday, October 15, before they could depart for the continent.
Their capture followed a warrant executed at the home of co-conspirator Paul Dillon, 32, on Norlands Park in Widnes, a few months earlier on Tuesday, June 30 when police seized almost £30,000 in cash.
Investigators had been monitoring Keating, of Lunts Heath Road, Widnes, Garforth, of no fixed address, and Dillon for three months via the hacked EncroChat network, which was cracked by international law enforcers in May 2020.
When detectives hacked into his software they unravelled a web of contacts and read messages in which he ordered Class A drugs and boasted of his “grafting” ability.
His sentence hearing in September 2020 was one of the first in the UK to hear evidence gained since Encrochat was breached in a major breakthrough in the battle against organised crime.
Cavanagh, from Wallasey, called on wholesalers from Merseyside, Manchester and beyond to make sure his stocks of heroin and crack cocaine could meet demand in Ellesmere Port and the Lache area of Chester.
Detectives believe he may have sold almost 50kgs of Class A drugs across the two operations, raking in as much as £2.3m.
The 30-year-old started up the drugs ‘lines’ – nicknamed the Dell Line and the Dark Line – after he moved to Ellesmere Port.
From there, he used connections in Wallasey and further afield to create a network of suppliers, couriers and safe houses that allowed him to gain a foothold in the town’s drugs trade.
Through his Encrochat-enabled mobile phones Cavanagh tapped into a web of suppliers across the north of England and Scotland.
But having seized phones from him, Cheshire Police sought to break into his messages and peak inside his mind.
In doing so, they found how Cavanagh had operated under a series of codenames – the final one being “Headfluffy”.
Cavanagh was sentenced to 14 years and six months after admitting conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.
The sentence included 12 months handed to him for dangerous driving following an incident in which he tried to run undercover police officers off the road. Mr Gunn said Cavanagh had believed the officers were rival criminals.
Michael Burns bigged up his cocaine dealings as he was drowning in thousands of pounds worth of debt after a court heard drugs were “lost on his watch”.
His defence barrister said the dad-of-three used “bravado” and “exaggeration” as he fell deeper and deeper into debt with another other EncroChat user, at one point owing £100,000.
The 39-year-old wrote in one message, while worrying about the impact of lockdown on business, that his mum had given him a council pass so he could deal drugs without arousing suspicion.
Stephen McNally, prosecuting, said Burns was the “go-to supplier for several other ‘handles’” who dealt in “tops”, used to refer to cocaine, and “jackets”, referring to cannabis.
Mr McNally explained in one conversation with EncroChat user ‘Merryspeaker’, Burns talked about delivering £17,000 with the promise of £6,000 later in the day.
Later he talked about how he was struggling to get hold of cocaine and to “keep me round going.”
Mr McNally said: “A message sent to ‘Souphedge’ states ‘None me lads can get about properly to graft, its a f***ing nightmare’.”
In another message, using his Encro handle ‘Milliondolla’, he wrote: “Got a pass off me mum saying I work for council so can get about as well easily …”
Mr McNally said it was revealed through the EncroChat messages Burns had high end international contacts.
In one message ‘Heftycalm’ said he had just returned from Colombia and the two discussed another man who “couldn’t get to his phone due to the lockdown restrictions” in the prison.
Mr McNally said in a discussion with ‘Merrysword’, Burns states he’s receiving “top Colo” at £37,000 per kilo.
Burns said he had cocaine “coming out me ears” and that he can get “as many as I want at 37s an dats on strap.”
Burns, of Plymyard Avenue, Eastham, Wirral, admitted conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis.
‘Bleakmoth’, ‘BassBelt’ and ‘OrdinaryDingo’
Dad-of-four Marshall, of Robson Street, Everton, also worked as a “courier” for the gang and made 10 identified trips in one of six “slot” cars to Cardiff and London.
Using an encrypted EncroChat phone with the handle “BleakMoth”, he raked in up to £8,000 a month when business was good.
But Hughes’ lavish lifestyle came crashing down and both he and his dad ended up behind bars.
Hughes was in a gang who moved such “eye-watering” amounts of drugs, they kept track on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets rather than paper tick lists.
The Liverpool-based crew shifted 170kg of cocaine, 11kg of heroin and 290kg of cannabis – worth more than £8m in total – in a little over two months.
Prosecutors said their slick operation had international links to Morocco, Spain and Dubai, and connections across the UK to London and Cardiff.
Hogg’s cousin, the former boxing champion Ryan Mulcahy, 29, aka “BassBelt”, was given responsibility for the cannabis arm of the conspiracy.
Anthony Connolly, 30, aka “OrdinaryDingo”, was the courier and “accountant”, who kept track of finances and stock on spreadsheets on his MacBook Pro.
Hughes admitted conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis, and to convert criminal property, and possessing cannabis. He was jailed for 14 and a half years.
Marshall, who also made 10 trips to Cardiff and London, ferrying drugs for the gang, admitted conspiring to supply cocaine.
The “trusted and frequent courier” was jailed for 10 years.
Connolly, formerly of Ellerman Road, Liverpool city centre, now of Station Road, Melling, admitted conspiring to supply cocaine and cannabis, and to convert criminal property. The “bookkeeper” was jailed for 14 and a half years.
Mulcahy, of Maregreen Road, Kirkdale, admitted conspiring to supply cannabis and to convert criminal property. He was jailed for six and a half years.
‘SnowEmu’, ‘JurgenNeverStops’ and ‘AlissonBecker’
Jordan Hughes traded cocaine and heroin with crooks using names of Liverpool FC stars on EncroChat.
The drug dealer went by the alias ‘SnowEmu’ on the encrypted messaging service.
The dad-of-two, who had no legitimate income, owned a Mercedes SUV and boasted of a two-storey extension to his Roby home.
The 30-year-old even took his family on a six-week summer holiday to Spain, all thanks to his deals with other criminals going by handles including “JurgenNeverStops” and “AlissonBecker”.
But his involvement in trafficking an estimated 15kg of Class A drugs came crashing down when police agencies hacked EncroChat last July.
And just days after the family returned from the extravagant trip, police raided their house, arrested Hughes and seized £2,850 in cash.
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