Craig Ancrum, a criminologist at Teesside University, was told by one cocaine wholesaler from the north east of England: “The top lads fled abroad before they could be nicked. One lad was bailed, but fucked off anyway.”
Nevertheless, before they could evade the authorities, a deluge of big players from the UK and across Europe were caught up in the EncroChat busts.
Investigators were able to sit back and witness the panic in real time, as criminals told each other over their compromised messaging system things like “the police scoring goals motherfuckers”.
The dragnet pulled in an array of characters not just from the criminal underworld, but the criminal overworld.
The people caught were both seasoned drugs and gun suppliers known to the police who had managed to dodge the law for years, and those who had been operating in the legitimate economy to grease the wheels of organised crime.
Of the nearly 400 serious criminals convicted so far in the UK from the EncroChat busts, many have received sentences of over 15 years after being caught for drug importation and violence.
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