Two brothers who were jailed as part of the EncroChat sting were once linked by police to a massive firearms conspiracy.
Michael and Peter Moogan were jailed for 11 years and three months each yesterday (Thursday) after Liverpool Crown Court heard they shared an EncroChat device to buy and sell cocaine.
The well known brothers were arrested after police penetrated the encrypted phone network used by crooks to sell drugs and plan serious crimes.
The Moogans, like many other criminals, had shared personal information on the phones which clearly identified them as the owners.
However the Moogan brothers were previously linked by police to the deadly trade in firearms on Merseyside.
In 2008 the brothers appeared on BBC’s Crimewatch programme when they were named as wanted men. Senior offices wanted to speak to them in relation to a firearms conspiracy headed up by Mark Watts.
Police believed Watts was selling handguns to some of the city’s more notorious street gangs such as the Croxteth Crew.
The Moogans were eventually tracked down in Spain and brought back to the UK to face justice.
The two Huyton men later admitted conspiracy to possess section 5 firearms and section 1 ammunition and were jailed for eight years each in 2009.
At the time Peter was 26 and Michael was 20.
The gun ring was based at a property in Haydock owned by Watts, who was jailed for 15 years.
Officers seized 11 guns, eight silencers and about 500 rounds of ammunition hidden around the home and up to £15,000 in cash.
The Moogans’ DNA was found on the boxes and bags which contained the guns.
In sentencing, Judge David Boulton told the Moogan brothers: “If police had not gone in when they did, there would be other dead youngsters.”
Watts always denied selling guns to street gangs.
Peter Moogan’s prison sentence was later reduced to six years and eight months by the Court of Appeal.
Yesterday Liverpool Crown Court heard how the Moogan brothers used an EncroChat phone to buy and sell cocaine between February and June 2020.
The brothers shared pictures of their children, vehicles, homes and relevant postcodes through EncroChat while on April 1, 2020 – Peter’s 38th birthday – a number of happy birthday messages were received by their account.
David Watson, prosecuting, said: “In the case of both defendants the attribution evidence was compelling.”
Their device had 42 contacts stored in it and their messages revealed details to buy and sell cocaine to accounts including DubFox, RareIvy, TopGolfer and ZonalPizza.
The brothers were both arrested during drug raids last summer . The Moogans are the latest in a long line of well known criminals from the Huyton area who have all been compromised as part of the EncroChat led investigation.
Yesterday senior officers welcomed the prison sentences handed to the Moogans.
Detective Inspector Chris Lowe said: “This is yet another great result for Operation Venetic and our work to find those responsible for drug supply across Merseyside continues.
“No criminal should profit from the misery drugs bring while our wider law abiding communities work hard to earn an honest living. I hope that Moogan and Moogan will reflect on the harm that they have caused while serving their jail time.
“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, and we will continue to target anyone involved in serious organised crime to keep this positive momentum going.
“We rely on our local communities to be our eyes and ears as part of these investigations and I would continue to urge people to come forward if they have information which could assist us.”
If you have information about drug dealing in your area, DM @MerPolCC or ring 101 or @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.
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