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Drug bosses hit with crime prevention orders got back to top - some only busted by EncroChat hack

CRIME bosses and gangsters hit with strict restrictions supposed to prevent them from reoffending have been able to re-establish themselves as top-tier criminals, raising questions about the effectiveness of the orders, an Essex News and Investigations probe found.

At least 13 drug kingpins and other serious criminals were able to rekindle their positions after leaving prison, despite being monitored under the strict restrictions of Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPO), which carry a maximum five-year sentence for a breach.

Details of their SCPO breaches emerged in court sentences over the past 18 months.

In nearly half of the cases (six) the drug lords were only prosecuted in connection with their criminal empires after Dutch and French police hacked into the encrypted phone network they were using to conceal activities in April 2020 before sharing the messages with British police.

SCPOs are a similar tool to control orders given to convicted terrorists and can be served on people convicted of serious organised crime offences to limit their finance, property and business dealings, associates, communication methods and travel within the UK and abroad upon release from prison.

They are monitored by police, the National Crime Agency (NCA) or other law enforcement and are designed to prevent them from resuming their criminal activities.

However, Essex News and Investigations discovered several cases where high echelon drug suppliers or other organised criminals placed under SCPOs were able to get back to similar positions for lengthy periods before being caught.

Steve Morris, a former Met Police detective sergeant, who worked for years in organised crime intelligence, said the amount of SCPO breaches showed they did not always work.

He said: "The orders are not working because, as is normal with law enforcement, Parliament passes legislation which is good to suppress organised crime, but those in charge don’t put the time, effort and recourse to implement them."

Brothers Jamie, 50, and Cavan Hanna, 52, (top image from their earlier prosecution) were placed under SCPOs after being convicted of conspiracy to supply class A drugs in 2009, when they (seen below from the latest prosecution) were each jailed for 14 years.

JAMIE HANNA (above) and Cavan (top)

The NCA has a Lifetime Management team to monitor the activities of those it prosecutes who are placed under SCPOs "to identify and reduce their opportunities for returning to criminal activity," according to its website.

It has close to 300 people currently subject to SCPOs or other ancillary orders.

Yet, despite the restrictions, still being on licence from prison, and being monitored by the NCA the pair set up an organised crime group that is suspected of supplying millions of pounds of cocaine across the UK.

By 2020 they were sending drug couriers in vehicles with specially adapted hides to deliver drugs and collect payments of tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds cash.

SEIZED: Drugs and cash found during the latest Hanna ibrothers nvestigation

They were only stopped after their activities were uncovered when Dutch and French police hacked into the encrypted Encrochat mobile phone system in April 2020 and handed evidence of their messages to the NCA.

They were charged with three other men working for them and in March Woolwich Crown Court heard they directed the couriers via the phones.

Over a 90-day period the conspiracy involved a total of 89kgs of cocaine worth more than £3.3m.

Both brothers were jailed for 25 years each after the trial.

Chief Constable Steve Jupp, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Serious and Organised Crime, said: "Serious crime prevention orders and other ancillary orders are a vital tool in tackling and preventing serious and organised crime. Although statistics sadly show a large degree of offenders go on to commit further offences post-conviction, these orders seek to mitigate that risk and provide an additional layer of deterrence."

In February 2014 Matthew Harrod, 48, (seen above in images from both prosecutions) was sentenced to ten years in prison after pleading guilty to being involved in the large scale supply of drugs.

He was released early in 2017 and was placed under an SCPO but immediately took control of a multi-million pound drugs network.

Despite the order supposed to limit him to one mobile phone and his associates he directed at least nine other criminals, using three mobile phones, including two EncroChats.

Police spent nearly two years investigating the network and EncroChat messages supplied from Europe aided the prosecution.

Messages from an associate's phone showed 30 drug deliveries one day and possession of £750,000 cash.

HAUL: Cash found in the latest Matthew Harrod probe

In December 2020 Harrod and nine others were prosecuted at Woolwich Crown Court for the import and distribution of 31kgs of cocaine, 308kgs of amphetamine, 590kgs of cannabis resin.

He was sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment, after being found guilty of drug charges and admitting breaching his SCPO.

An NCA spokesman said: “Career criminals often regard prison as an interruption which rarely marks the end of their involvement in organised crime.

"SCPOs and other ancillary orders are useful tools for preventing and deterring future offending.

"The NCA rigorously enforces these orders and takes action if people breach the terms.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The conditions imposed by these orders can be wide-ranging and can deter criminals from further offending, as well as enable close monitoring by law enforcement agencies."

Read about further cases where SCPOs were breached here, here and on the links below:


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