Middle man in supply of drugs jailed

A criminal who acted as a middle man for dealers involved in the supply of large quantities of harmful drugs has been jailed.

Peter Moran, 50, of Feering Road, Billericay, was a facilitator who acted as a go-between for suppliers of controlled drugs including cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis.

An extensive investigation found Moran used encrypted messages to receive photographs of the illicit substances for sale, before he would look to find a buyer.

He would make between £250 and £500 for helping to move a kilogram of cocaine, and made £2,000 having helped to sell 20kg of cannabis.

Specialist officers with the Serious and Organised Crime Unit found Moran had been involved in the supply of around 72kg of cannabis.

The investigation centred on the examination of encrypted messages attributed to Moran, between March 28 and May 27 2020.

Officers executed a search warrant at Moran’s home in April 2021, seizing his mobile phone and £14,000 in cash hidden in a storage compartment underneath an oven.

Appearing at Basildon Crown Court in January, he admitted conspiracy to supply a Class A drug, three counts of conspiracy to supply a Class B drug, conspiring to transfer criminal property and two counts of failing to comply with a serious crime prevention order.

This order was put in place after Moran was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for drug supply offences in 2010.

Appearing at the same court on Friday July 21, he was sentenced to six years and eight months imprisonment.

DS David Crane said: “This operation involved the movement of large sums of money and harmful drugs, which further along the chain would undoubtedly contribute to the misery and pain felt by vulnerable users and those ordered to push these substances on the street.

“Moran thought his part in this criminal enterprise would be shielded from view, allowing him to make considerable ill-gotten profit. He was wrong.

“Moran was a career criminal, but he will now spend another considerable term behind bars to contemplate his life choices.”

Moran’s arrest and charge arose from Op Venetic – a major operation involving the cracking of a bespoke encrypted global communication service, exclusively used by criminals.

EncroChat offered a secure mobile phone instant messaging service with 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 in the UK.

The primary use was for co-ordinating and planning criminal activities including the distribution of illicit commodities and money laundering.

Since 2016, international law enforcement agencies worked together to target EncroChat, and other encrypted criminal communications platforms, and in 2020 agencies in France and the Netherlands infiltrated the platform.

The intelligence gleaned through this was then shared via Europol to national law enforcement agencies.