EXCLUSIVE: Encrochat suspect arrested on 'message evidence' alone as he tried to fly to Dubai
A SUSPECT in the country's biggest ever investigation into suspected organised crime groups was arrested as he tried to fly to Dubai. The 34-year-old man from Childwall, Liverpool, was wanted for arrest as part of Operation Venetic, the National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into the use of the Encrochat encrypted mobile phone system by suspected organised criminals which has seen more than 1,000 arrests across the country since April. He was arrested as he tried to board a flight to Dubai at Manchester Airport. An NCA spokesman aid: "A 34-year-old man from was arrested on Wednesday<Jan 27> on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai from Manchester Airport.
It is understood the suspect was shown Encrochat messages and was told by NCA investigators it was him who sent them.
But, the suspect made no comment and was bailed pending further enquiries. The arrest came 12 days after a man, 28, from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, was arrested by NCA officers as he flew into Heathrow Airport from Germany as part of an Operation Venetic cocaine importation investigation. He was also released on bail. The NCA continues to scour through thousands of messages sent on the now defunct Encrochat system that was being used by 9,000 people in the UK.
Many people have been charged based on the evidence of Encrochat messages alone. Several Encrochat prosecutions have been held up after defence lawyers argued messages that were obtained by the NCA in "real time" constitute a "live intercept" which is inadmissible in British Courts. In one case, which cannot be identified for legal reasons, the judge threw out the application to dismiss the case, but it is now being considered by the Court of Appeal.