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ENCROCHAT: Home Secretary Priti Patel watches as man arrested in drug and weapons probe

HOME Secretary Priti Patel (above right) watched as a man was arrested on suspicion of guns and drugs offences this morning as part of ongoing investigations into the EncroChat encrypted phone system.

The man and another suspect were arrested in simultaneous raids this morning (Tuesday, August 23rd) as part of Operation Venetic, the National Crime Agency (NCA) response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat in 2020.

NCA officers arrested a 44-year-old man at his home in the plush Abbotswood area of Guildford, west Surrey.

He was arrested on suspicion of importing cocaine, heroin, cannabis, conspiring to supply class A and B drugs, possession of a prohibited weapon and money laundering.

Mrs Patel looked stern as she was in attendance to observe the early morning strike.

A second suspect, aged 40, of Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs, supplying class A and B drugs, possession of a prohibited weapon, conspiring to sell ammunition and money laundering.

Both properties were searched as well as a third property in Walthamstow, north east London. The men remain in custody for questioning.

It is believed the organised crime group has international links to offenders involved in high level crime.

Dean Wallbank, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “There are undeniable levels of violence and exploitation linked to illegal drugs and firearms in the UK.

“Both threats are priorities for the National Crime Agency and we work with partners at home and abroad to combat them.

“We believe the two arrested men were part of an organised crime group importing multi kilo consignments of class A drugs and firearms into the country.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Illegal drugs devastate lives, destroy our communities and cost society billions.

“Gangs exploit the most vulnerable people to run their grubby trade, all to line their own greedy pockets.

“We will not allow this to continue. That is why, working with policing partners, we have ensured more than 2,400 County Lines have been shut down since November 2019, more than 8,000 arrests have been made and more than 9,500 people have been supported to get the help they need.

“Through the policies and Drugs Strategy which I have led, we are investing over £3billion to combat drugs, helping to stamp out drugs supply, target criminal drug operatives at home and abroad, address drug addiction in our communities and make our streets safer.”


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