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ENCROCHAT HACK: Tonne of cocaine at Dover latest NCA seizure in encryption probe

AROUND a tonne of cocaine, concealed within a load of fruit, is the latest seizure in Operation Venetic - the series of raids across the UK triggered by the law enforcement hack of the encrypted Encrochat mobile communication system.

The seizure (pictured above) at Dover followed an investigation that spanned from Glasgow, in Scotland, to Brentwood, Essex.

The drugs were discovered in pallets which had arrived into Dover on a vessel from South America.

The discovery was made in the early hours of Tuesday, September 22, after specialist Border Force search teams were brought in to assist officers working as part of the Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland).

Following the seizure, NCA and Police Scotland officers arrested two men on suspicion of importing class A drugs, a 40-year-old in Brentwood, Essex, and a 64-year-old in central Glasgow.

HAUL: The NCA said the drugs had a street value of around £100 million (NCA)

Both were questioned before being released under investigation, which means there was not even evidence to charge or even bail them.

A number of searches were also been carried out at locations in Glasgow and Essex.

Operation Venetic began in April after Dutch and French specialist investigators hacked into Encrochat, which was used by 60,000 criminals globally and 10,000 in the UK, for supposedly secure communications.

Access was given t police across Europe who were able to monitor real time messages between organised criminals across Europe.

So far more than 1,000 people have been arrested in the UK with hundreds charged.

SUCCESS: Nikki Holland has hailed the seizure (Jon Austin)

NCA Director of Investigations Nikki Holland said: “This is a huge seizure of class A drugs, made as a result of some excellent joint working between the NCA and Police Scotland under the Organised Crime Partnership (Scotland), and our Border Force colleagues.

“This operation has prevented a large amount of cocaine from making it on to our streets, we estimate that once adulterated and sold it could have had a street value of up to £100 million.

“So in making this seizure we have taken away a valuable commodity that would have been sold to fund further serious and organised criminality.

“Our investigation into this attempted importation is continuing.”

Angela McLaren, Assistant Chief Constable Organised Crime, Counter Terrorism and intelligence, said:

"This seizure is undoubtedly a massive setback for serious and organised criminals. This operation and our other recent successes underline our unwavering commitment to working with partners, including the NCA, Border Force and SOC Taskforce, to disrupt this sort of criminality.

"Working together we will relentlessly pursue those who seek to bring misery to our communities whether they are in Scotland or elsewhere in the world. ”

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philip said: “This was another excellent seizure which demonstrates the work of Border Force officers who work tirelessly on the frontline to prevent Class A drugs such as cocaine from reaching the streets, where they can devastate lives and our society.

“We will continue to collaborate with law enforcement partners like the NCA and Police Scotland to disrupt organised criminal networks and ensure drugs smugglers face the full force of the law.”


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