A significant member of an organised crime group which was responsible for moving dozens of kilograms of cocaine and cannabis and laundering millions of pounds in cash has been jailed following the work of specialist detectives.
The group moved the drugs and cash through Essex and London between March and July 2020.
The investigation into the group began in 2021 as a result of 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 about 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.
As a result of the information supplied to us through international authorities, detectives from our serious and organised crime unit were able to identify a number of people from their EncroChat aliases who were working together, six of whom have already been sentenced to a total of more than 30 years in jail.
They had been discussing drugs and had been sharing images of the product.
Henry Allpress, of Carroll Hill, Loughton, was a significant part of the group and had instructed the delivery, collection or purchase of more than 70kg of cocaine and 50kg of cannabis.
Nicknamed ‘Comebackking’ on the chat service, we could also prove the 29-year-old was responsible for laundering about £5m in cash. ‘Combackking’ was also known on the chat to speak about driving a Smart Car, the same car in which Allpress was previously stopped by police on suspicion of drug driving.
Allpress was subsequently arrested as he returned to Gatwick Airport from a holiday in France.
He was questioned on suspicion of drug offences and money laundering and released on conditional bail.
However, when he did not sign on for bail, further investigation found he had fled the country.
We worked alongside the National Crime Agency to track him down and have him arrested in Spain and returned to the UK, where he was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs and money laundering.
He admitted those offences and was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on Monday 18 December to a total of 13 years in jail.
'This is not tolerated in Essex'
Detective Inspector Frazer Low, of our serious and organised crime unit, said:
“There is no doubt that this was an organised and sophisticated group which allocated roles to each of its members. But they were not operating invisibly; they were using what they believed to be a safe and encrypted messaging service and made bold boasts and brags about their work. “They were responsible for polluting parts of Essex with illicit drugs – and with that supply will often come serious violence and exploitation. That’s not tolerated in Essex and we’ll pursue anyone involved in that and we’ll continue our work to take down networks such as these and ensure those intent on causing harm in our communities are put behind bars.”
Can we help?
Are you worried that a friend or someone you know may be being exploited through County Lines or Organised Crime Group activity?
Maybe they are returning home late, staying out all night or even going missing for days or weeks at a time.
Are they suddenly being secretive about who they are talking to or where they are going?
Or perhaps you’ve noticed they have large amounts of money on them, or new clothing, jewellery or phones they wouldn’t be able to afford.
Through Fearless, you can pass on information 100% anonymously to get them help.