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#Encrochat: Six jailed for dealing cocaine and cannabis to sell in Reading

SIX people are behind bars this evening after being found guilty of attempting to supply drugs in the Reading area.

They will serve a combined total of 35 years and six months.

Reading Crown Court heard that the six conspired with persons unknown to supply large kilos of cocaine and cannabis, but were thwarted by Thames Valley Police.

Its Operation Sleek ran between November 2019 and May 2020. Officers were provided with information relating to phones being used by the targets of this operation. They were part of the encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

The investigation identified Aaron Lockwood, helped by his ex-partner, Catherine Lockwood, stored cocaine in an address before it was supplied to his customers, Wellard and Harrison.

Near the end of the investigation, Aaron Lockwood passed the use of an Encro phone to Sue.

Wellard and Harrison prepared the drugs to be sold on to customers across Berkshire.

Watt sourced his drugs from the same upstream supplier as Aaron Lockwood and Sue.

Following searches of the defendants’ properties beginning in May 2020, more than 1.5kg of cocaine and 8.9kg of cannabis were recovered, along with cash totalling more than £49,000.

The men and women were issued with summons on August 3 last year.

Ryan Watt, 28, of Amberley Road, Slough, and Ricky Sue, 56, of Brightwell Crescent, Tooting, London, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply ketamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Watt was sentenced to a total of four years and six months’ imprisonment.

Joshua Harrison, 30, of Wavell Gardens, Slough, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to supply cannabis, and was sentenced to seven years and nine months’ imprisonment.

Stacie Wellard, 36, of Frimley Drive, Slough, Aaron Lockwood, aged 41, of Main Road, Biggin Hill, Kent, and Catherine Lockwood, 39, of Quantock Close, Slough, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine.

Wellard was jailed for four years and nine months.

Aaron Lockwood was sentenced to seven years and eight months’ imprisonment.

Catherine Lockwood was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Andrew Hall, of the Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “The sentences passed down to these men and women today marks the end of a significant intelligence-led investigation following information received from the National Crime Agency.

“This was a very significant drug supply network, and those convicted brought large quantities of class A and class B drugs into the Thames Valley with the intention of flooding the area with them.

“I would like to pay tribute to all of our officers and staff, and our partners at the Crown Prosecution Service and the NCA for their support in securing these convictions and sentences.

“As a result of this successful partnership work, six members of this OCG will now spend significant spells in prison as a result.”

He added that Thames Valley Police would never tolerate the production and supply of drugs.

“They cause untold harm, particularly to those who are vulnerable, and tackling this type of criminality remains one of Thames Valley Police’s top priorities,” he said.

“Six major figures involved in the supply of class A and class B drugs have now been brought to justice, and they will be unable to bring harm to our communities for many years to come.

“Our Stronghold team will proactively and robustly pursue and prosecute offenders, and our activity will be both visible and covert to ensure that the harm brought into our communities by organised crime groups is removed.”

And he pledged that the force will continue to bring offenders before the courts where they belong.

“I would also urge anybody who has information about drug supply and production to get in touch with police,” he said.



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