lagging behind | 

EncroChat phone hack led to jailing of 400 UK criminals but no success in Ireland

The hack was described by European police as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against organised crime

Ryan Palin who was convicted following EncroChat hack

Nicola TallantSunday World

Almost 400 serious criminals in the UK have been convicted on foot of the massive EncroChat phone hack while another 1,200 are before the courts.

Two years since the hack was described by police as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against organised crime, European forces are enjoying continued success putting gangs behind bars while Ireland has nothing to show for it’s role in the process.

A decision by Garda management in charge of Crime and Security not to act on the high level intelligence garnered over two months from the phone network has left the country’s force lagging behind it’s counterparts.

In an interview for the Crime World podcast, editor Max Daly from Vice Global news says that while cocaine importation and purity remain at the same levels since before the hack, dangerous criminals have received hundreds of years behind bars.

In the UK, he says, a total of 2,864 people have been arrested with 1,571 charged in relation to drugs and organised crime. To date 383 criminals have been convicted for crimes including conspiracy to murder and money laundering.

Raids carried out on foot of the EncroChat information passed on to the National Crime Agency by French and Dutch police netted £77 million in cash, 20 tons of drugs, 170 firearms and 3,400 rounds of ammunition.

“Many of those convicted so far in the UK have received sentences of over 15 years after being caught for drug importation and violence,” he says.

“There were believed to be around 60,000 Encro users around the world with most based in Europe. Of them 10,000 were based in the UK and it was definitely one of the biggest encrypted messaging networks used by criminals.

“We can see from evidence that criminals were using the system to communicate about drug trafficking, murder and money laundering. It was an innovation of mobile technology which allowed them talk openly but it loosened their tongues and has seen many of them locked up for up to 30 years.”

EncroChat users received a message on their phone units in June 2020 to tell them the system had been compromised and while the news sparked panic in the underworld many believed the hack had only occurred for a few hours and not for two months.

What followed was a huge series of raids, arrests and investigations across Europe which netted a torture chamber in the Netherlands and drug factories in the UK amongst thousands of other crime scenes.

In the UK, Ireland’s nearest neighbour hundreds of cases are still being heard before the courts every month, many of which have resulted in guilty pleas before trial.

In one case a gang from the East Midlands received sentences totalling 167 years after they were found to be making £400,000 a day smuggling £165 million of cocaine from Dubai to the UK.

Cocaine trafficker Ryan Palin received a 29 year sentence after a court hears he was identified via photos he shared on EncroChat of a mural at his home of Conor McGregor.

Liverpudlian gang enforcer Jonathan Gordon, who specialised in blinding his victims with acid, was found guilty of his crimes.

While they are just a few of the UK’s estimated 30,000 gangland criminals involved in over 4,000 gangs, Daly says the convictions are very significant.

“This is a big bite into organised crime and the results are nothing to be sniffed at. It was a huge wave of arrests and many significant players were caught up in it while many others fled abroad,” he said.

However in the greater picture EncroChat has done little to disrupt the flood of cocaine across the globe from Colombia and into Europe.

Purity of the substance for sale on the streets in London and Dublin has remained the same as has the price indicating that the supply and demand chain has remained untouched.

Crime World is available wherever you get your podcasts.

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