Four members of an organised crime group responsible for moving multiple kilos of cocaine and millions of pounds of cash through west Essex and London have been jailed following work by specialist detectives.
The investigation into the group began in May last year following information gleaned through Op Venetic – a major operation involving the cracking of a bespoke encrypted global communication service, exclusively used by criminals.
EncroChat offered a secure mobile phone instant messaging service with 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 in the UK.
The primary use was for co-ordinating and planning criminal activities including the distribution of illicit commodities and money laundering.
Since 2016, international law enforcement agencies worked together to target EncroChat, and other encrypted criminal communications platforms, and last year agencies in France and the Netherlands infiltrated the platform.
The intelligence gleaned through this was then shared via Europol to national law enforcement agencies.
Officers were able to identify a group were involved in the wholesale supply of cocaine, heroin, and cannabis through west Essex and London.
They also made and laundered millions of pounds in cash.
Through the interception of their Encrochat messages, officers were able to identify group members discussing drugs as a commodity, often sharing images of their product.
Officers were able to link different members of the group with each other through identifying their individual handles or codenames used on the messaging service and establishing their real-life identity.
The group members are sentenced are:
Joe Stokes – A significant member of the group, responsible for the multi-kilo purchase and distribution of Class A and B drugs.
William Jayes – responsible for cutting and diluting the drugs prior to their distribution;
Jane Daly, Alfie Mainstone, Dylan Williams, and Patrick Cobb – Couriers for the group.
Stokes, 29, of Joseph Trotter Close, Clerkenwell was charged with two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs, one count of conspiring to supply Class B drugs, and one count of conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
Jayes, 25, of Percy Circus, Pentonville, was charged with conspiring to supply Class A drugs, conspiring to supply Class B drugs, and conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
Daly, 57, of Dingley Road, London EC1V, was charged with conspiring to supply Class A drugs and conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
Mainstone, 23, of Prentice Place, Harlow was charged with two counts of conspiring to supply Class A drugs, one count of conspiring to supply Class B drugs, and one count of conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
Williams, 29, of Fieldway Crescent, London N5, was charged with conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
And Cobb, 53, of Forest Road, Wanstead was charged with conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer, or remove criminal property.
They all pleaded guilty to all the charges against them and at Chelmsford Crown Court Thursday 5 May were sentenced as follows:
Joe Stokes – A total of ten years in prison William Jayes – a total of 11 years in prison Jane Daly – a total of six years and 221 days in prison Alfie Mainstone – a total of seven years in prison Dylan Williams – a total of 18 months in prison, suspended for two years Patrick Cobb – to be sentenced at a later date
We will take down drug networks
“Drugs are a plague poisoning our communities, ruining lives and destroying families. “This was a sophisticated group which had a slick network of dealers, drug cutters, and couriers. “They have been responsible for polluting our towns with cocaine and heroin. “Drug money is blood money – where drugs are sold, violence and exploitation of vulnerable people often follows. “These six people will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars and Essex is a safer place for it. “We will continue our work to take down networks such as these and ensure those intent on causing harm in our communities are put behind bars.” - Acting Detective Inspector David Crane, Serious and Organised Crime Unit.