Armed police seized drugs, a stolen car and cash during the latest raids in an operation into the criminal use of encrypted mobile phones. Two alleged class A drug traffickers, aged 35 and 38, were also arrested during the operation in Oldham and Rochdale at 5am today.
Police later confirmed class A and B drugs, mobile phones, designer clothing, a stolen car and cash suspected to have been the proceeds of crime were seized as three properties were raided. Officers from GMP backed by the Regional Organized Crime Unit and armed officers executed three drug warrants at properties in Waterhead in Oldham, the Langley area of Middleton and in Lower Place in Rochdale.
The raids are the latest in a huge police investigation into the criminal use of EncroChat mobile phones.
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For years, the totally legal EncroChat service allowed 50,000 users around the world – 9,000 of them in the UK – to communicate in the knowledge none of their texts would be uncovered by law enforcement. It was WhatsApp for serious criminals.
That ended when investigators hacked into EncroChat’s server in Roubaix, northern France, in April 2020, sending bogus updates to devices across the globe which effectively mined the incriminating data criminals wanted so much to conceal.
It prompted the hugely successful Operation Venetic, the National Crime Agency investigation into the data that has been recovered, and the GMP arm of the probe, Operation Foam. Guns, ammunition, drugs and millions in dirty cash have been seized as part of GMP’s operation.
Following this morning’s raids, two men remain in custody after they were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A drugs, conspiracy to import class A drug, conspiracy to manufacture and supply class B drugs and conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition.
“They remain in custody for questioning,” said a spokesperson for GMP. The force says its operation ‘is a lengthy and intricate force-wide operation focused on the infiltration and takedown of the encrypted communications platform EncroChat, often used by organized criminal groups’.
Following this morning’s raids, Detective Constable Chris Brown, of GMP’s Oldham Challenger Team, said: “Today’s result follows months of meticulous planning and investigative work and is yet another positive step forward in our endeavor to disrupt and dismantle the supply of class A and B Drugs, the criminal use of firearms and organized crime in the Greater Manchester area.
“While we have two men in custody our investigation does remain ongoing and we will continue to investigate and eradicate this type of criminal activity from the area. Drugs and illegal firearms in particular, blight communities and have absolutely no place amongst our community so I would encourage anyone with any information in regard to this type of activity to get in touch with police. Reports will be treated with the upmost seriousness and can be made in confidence.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0161 856 8934 or 101. Details can also be passed via GMP’s live webchat function at www.gmp.police.uk. Alternatively, details can be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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