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BURIED IN THE GARDEN: Encrochat hack leads NCA to guns and ammo in grounds of Warrington home

TWO firearms and over a hundred rounds of ammunition have been found at a property in Warrington as part of a National Crime Agency EncroChat investigation into the large scale supply of firearms.

Officers searched a house on Selworthy Drive, Warrington, Cheshire, where two taped packages were buried in the back garden.

One package contained a loaded Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic pistol and approximately 100 rounds of ammunition, while a Grand Power semi-automatic pistol with over 20 rounds of ammunition and a suppressor were recovered from a second package.

An NCA spokesman said: "The NCA had reason to believe weapons were being kept at the house through EncroChat data retrieved during Operation Venetic and mobile phones seized in other arrests."

BURIED: The two packages (top) and one of the guns (above) (NCA)

Robert Brazendale, aged 33, from Warrington, who has links to the property, was apprehended last month in the Costa del Sol on a European Arrest Warrant as part of the wider NCA investigation, which has already led to the recovery of two AK47 assault rifles, an Uzi and Skorpion sub machine guns and 300 rounds of ammo. Three other men have been charged in relation to those seizures.

A man and woman in their 60s were arrested at the Warrington address but later released under investigation.

Paul Owen, NCA Investigations Manager, said: “A lot of effort had clearly been put into trying to hide these weapons which we believe are linked to serious and organised crime.

“We know that guns in the UK are commonly used by criminals to coerce, intimidate and carry out serious acts of violence.

HAUL: Ammunition found in the garden (NCA)

“Through the diligence of our officers and support from partners, we’ve taken more deadly weapons out of circulation. We will continue to target offenders who bring firearms into our communities.”

The NCA launched its investigation earlier this year as part of Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response to the takedown of the encrypted messaging platform EncroChat.

This spring Dutch and French investigators broke through the encryption of the supposedly secure Encrochat encrypted phone communication platform which was being used by around 60,000 criminals worldwide, including 10,000 in the UK.

They allowed police forces across Europe, including in the UK, access to real time messaging between organised crime groups.

It led to hundreds of raids, arrests and seizures of drugs, cash and firearms, with more than 1,000 people arrested.


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