Alleged EncroChat kingpin from Dubai appears in UK court charged over drugs and murder conspiracy



THE alleged head of an international crime network appeared in court today (May 28) charged with conspiracy to murder and drugs offences.

James Harding, 31, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court to face one count of conspiracy to murder.

He had been arrested the day before at Heathrow Airport.

The court heard he allegedly conspired together with Jayes Kharouti, 38, Calvin Crump, 26, Jimmy Gottshalk, 34, Michael Ematuwo, 26, and others unknown to murder others unknown between May 15 and June 13 2020.

The Met Police investigation was launched after the hack by French and Dutch police of the EncroChat encrypted phone system in April 2020 that saw messages shared with British police.

Ematuwo, of Lambeth, Crump of Redhill, Surrey, and Gottshalk, from Wolverhampton, were arrested in July 2020 and charged with the same offence before being remanded in custody to await trial. The court listed Harding's address yesterday as simply "Dubai."

He is also charged with conspiring with Kharouti, Crump, Gottshalk and others to supply a quantity of cocaine between March 31 2020 and June 13 that year.

A third charge was conspiring with Kharouti, Crump, Gottshalk and others to import cocaine between the same dates.

Harding was remanded into custody and the case was adjourned to a plea hearing at the Old Bailey next month.

A Met Police spokesman said: "Harding was initially arrested by the Swiss Police at Geneva Airport on 27 December in relation to an extradition warrant.

"On 27 May, he was arrested at a London airport by Metropolitan Police officers.

"He was charged later the same day and appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday, May 28 where he was remanded in custody."