Cocaine gang caught with £9,000 Rolex watch, bundles of cash and vans with secret hiding spots after Encrochat hack

Three cocaine and cannabis dealers were busted after police hacked into the Encrochat system.

Messages between the men showed they were in contact with the head of the group, known only by his code names, ‘FirstSandman’ and ‘’.

Jordan Dobbie, also known as ‘Freerolextwo’, acted underneath him, with Tony Mendes, also known as ‘Cactusone’, and Stuart Anderson, known as ‘Reebokone’, acting as employees.

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Both Mendes, 33, and Anderson, 40, were in regular contact with ‘First Sandman’, and would meet up with customers to drop off and receive cash and drugs, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

Dobbie, 31, and another man known as ‘PrizeFire’ were in charge of organizing and arranging the collections and deliveries of the drugs.

Between March 20 and June 30, 2020, messages were uncovered following the Europe-wide hack into Encrochat, a system used exclusively by members of organized crime groups to plan criminal activities.

From these messages, Greater Manchester Police were able to track down the men and executed search warrants at each of their homes.

They found designer clothing, expensive jewellery, tens of thousands in cash and vans with secret hiding spots that allowed them to move the drugs and cash without detection.

Tony Mendes

Mendes’ house in Burnley was first searched on June 16, during which he told officers: “I am not a drug supply person”.

Neil Fryman, prosecuting, said: “A gray Citroen van was discovered, which was empty but had a hidden compartment specially made beneath the floor.

“From the messages from ‘Cactusone’, he was known to have had a hidden ‘stash’ in his van.

“Various items of paraphernalia including an encrypted device, a vacuum sealer and a box of vacuum packs were discovered.

“Other cash was found in various parts of the house, including a Scottish £5 note.

“A £5 note was used as a token of providing identification of the individual who was transporting the items in connection with the conspiracy.”

Officers also found a cash counting machine, various other amounts of cash and a receipt for a Rolex watch worth £9,000. The watch has not been found.

The total amount of cash found at Mendes’ house was over £13,600.

Anderson’s home in Middleton was searched and police found cash, cocaine, cannabis and a Mercedes van parked in front of the house with a hidden compartment in the floor.

Blocks of cocaine were recovered during a search of Anderson’s house

In the compartment were a pair of scissors, tape, and a Sat Nav, and it could only be opened by a silver magnet on a hook.

Also found was disposable gloves, burner phones and digital scales.

The total amount of cash found in Anderson’s home was £83,500.

Stuart Anderson

Messages between Mendes (Cactusone) and ‘First Sandman’ showed them discussing £100,000 to be laundered with Mendes acting as a courier and using the bank note as a token.

“There were discussions about receiving £170,000 in payments from other drug dealers, and putting £100,000 in the stash hole in the van,” Mr Fryman continued.

“Cactusone said he knew a drug dealer who wanted a kilo of cocaine, and First Sandman said he could get a kilo of cocaine, for £45,000 per kilo.

“This conversation is an example of Cactusone brokering an intended supply between the person he knew as a drug dealer and First Sandman for wholesale.”

Another conversation between Mendes and First Sandman showed him suggesting that a Vauxhall Vivaro would be the ‘best van’ to use for drug couriers as it could carry the most drugs.

In conversations between April and May 2020, Anderson discussed drug transactions worth £30,000, and later he agreed to pick up the drugs to deliver them to the customer.

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On May 23, conversations between FirstSandman and Anderson stated they had a ‘busy weekend’ for drug dealing and had received £41,000.

In his police interview, Anderson made no comment, save for that he had been working for the Royal Mail for ‘many years’.

Mendes told officers that he was the ‘money-man’ and would collect cash and move it about, often ‘thousands’ a week.

Dobbie, of Burnley, was arrested later, and during a search of the house, officers found keys to a Range Rover and a BMW.

The BMW was parked eight houses down the road on a driveway to a vacant house – inside it was £37,000 in bundles of cash.

jordan dobbie

Other items found included a diamond ring, designer clothing and a BB gun. The total amount of cash seized was over £62,000.

Conversations between Dobbie and FirstSandman showed them discussing a payment of £41,500 for a kilo of cocaine, with Dobbie making reference to the boss’s nickname of ‘Piano’ as he ‘only sold keys’.

In other conversations he sent First Sandman a picture of a block of cocaine, and the pair discussed the quality of the drug in which Dobbie said it was ‘bang on’.

Following a search of Dobbie’s car, £37,000 was recovered in bundles of cash

He later changed his handle to ‘CastleKiwi’ after swapping to a new Encrophone.

“As though a market trader was setting up a new stall” Judge John Potter said.

The minimum amount of cocaine supplied was around 15 kilos, worth an estimated street value of £1.5 million, and the money exchanged throughout the conspiracy was said to be just under £1m.

Each of the men were said to have no relevant previous convictions.

Mitigating for Dobbie, Phil Holden said: “There is no evidence that Mr Dobbie had anybody working for him,” he said.

“He was very much hands on, rather than other people dealing with it on his behalf.”

For Mendes, barrister Adam Watkins said: “He collected, couriered and transferred the money – he was doing that for reward.

“He was trusted – he was an employee. I did go into it willingly.”

In mitigation for Anderson, Carl Hargan said: “He was addicted to cocaine and cannabis at the time – he took that to alleviate pain in his back – and he was in debt to drug dealers.”

Sentencing them, Judge John Potter said: “None of you are experienced criminals, but each of you freely decided to become involved in sophisticated and professional criminal activity by way of dealing in class A drugs.

“You did so, in my judgement, inspired simply by greed, given the reward you all expected to make over a short period of time.

“It’s noteworthy that you three individuals, who previously on the face of it were good family men, have descended to a level of this dreadful criminality.

Dobbie, of Leigh Park, was jailed for 12 years, after admitting offenses of conspiring to supply class A drugs and possession of criminal property.

Anderson, of Boarshaw Clough, was jailed for 11 years and 10 months, after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs and possession of criminal property

Mendes, of Madenfold Way, was jailed for 10-and-a-half years for offenses of conspiring to supply class A and B drugs and possession of criminal property.

A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing was set for May 27 this year.

Wads of cash and drugs were found

Detective Constable Coulson of GMP’s Serious Organized Crime Group, said: “Following four months of investigative work and intricate analysis of the Encrochat data our detectives were able to identify all three men as the people behind the usernames.

“Both Anderson and Mendes were engaged in a highly sophisticated OCG and drug operation that was servicing a large amount of Class A drugs to multiple customers across the North West region.

“Messages clearly showed they were regularly transporting several kilo’s of cocaine across the region and thankfully we have been able to disrupt and dismantle this chain of criminality.

“These men now face a considerable amount of time behind bars and that serves as testament to the hard work and determination of all the officers involved who have committed endless hours to the investigation.

“This type of activity is not welcome within our communities and I hope today’s result sends a stark warning that we will do all that we can to ensure all those responsible are identified and face justice.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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