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Number 1 UK rapper “Nines” was caught on Encrochat conspiracy

Nines recently topped the UK Album charts with Crabs in a Bucket which was his third studio album his first being  One Foot Out, Crop Circle and last year’s Crabs In A Bucket, which was critically acclaimed and has millions of streams online.

But sadly on Friday he has pled guilty to drug and money laundering charges in Harrow Crown Court. 

The court deduced that the 31-year-old rapper ​​​(born Courtney Freckleton) and Jason Thompson, 35, had been involved in a successful cannabis import with further attempts made.

Cannabis is a Class B drug in the United Kingdom it can warrant up to a 14-year sentence or an unlimited fine for supply, production and importation. 

Partners in Crime

Thompson and Freckleton

Nines and his co defendant Thompson were arrested back in June after various police raids across London, Borehamwood and Hertfordshire.

These police raids stemmed from the infiltration of encrypted messaging service Encrochat last year by French investigators.

The dissection of Encrochat gave the police leads into various illicit enterprises across Europe.

In court, the pair confessed to importing the Class B drug into the UK from Poland and Spain, and conspiracy to transfer criminal cash between March 10 and July 3 last year. 

Prosecutor Genevieve Reed said that the plot involved 28kg of cannabis, its subsequent street-level value and prosecution said they left him £100,000 down from intercepted money.

Last year, Nines released a No. 1 album in Crabs In A Bucket. 

He was also crowned Best Hip Hop Act at the 2020 MOBO Awards. 

Nines winning Mobo award

Encrochat hack

UK Police arrested more than 700 suspects, seized £54m in cash and tonnes of drugs in the “biggest and most significant” operation ever against organised crime.

Officials said previously “untouchable” kingpins who have evaded justice for decades, while enjoying “flashy” lifestyles, were among those detained.

High-level gangs, including those importing guns, drugs and people into Britain, have been targeted in a series of raids after law enforcement agencies accessed a secretive communications network.

EncroChat was used on bespoke mobile phones that were designed to be secure against police infiltration and examination.

But in April, an international team cracked its encryption, started spying on users and harvesting their data as they carried on unawares.

“There were 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK,” the National Crime Agency (NCA) said as raids continued on Thursday morning.

“The sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals.”

The platform was infiltrated by agencies in France and the Netherlands, and shared via Europol to partners including the UK.

“Unbeknown to users, the NCA and the police have been monitoring their every move since then,” an NCA spokesperson said.

“It is the biggest and most significant operation of its kind in the UK.”

Scarcity previous coverage on London Encrochat raids

Computer forensics

Hundreds of staff worked to analyse the data and identify EncroChat users, working through millions of messages and hundreds of thousands of images.

The operation has also revealed the identities of an unknown number of corrupt police officers and employees in different law enforcement agencies.

Officials said that while police operations against gangs frequently see lower-level operatives who “get their hands dirty” arrested while those at the top remain free, EncroPhones were only used by the “middle tier upwards”.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for serious organised crime, Chief Constable Steve Jupp, called the operation “an unparalleled victory against the kingpin criminals”.

As a result of the intelligence seized, police and the NCA said they had prevented more than 200 “threats to life”, by stopping rival gangs carrying out kidnappings and executions.

London

In London alone, 1,400 EnroChat users were found.

The Metropolitan Police said the operation enabled them to foil an assassination plot in June and arrest the would-be gunman.

Scotland Yard said it had detained members of one of the “most high-harm” OCGs in the capital, adding: “The central figures of this group lead lavish lifestyles and live in multimillion pound properties with access to top-of-the-range vehicles.

Nikki Holland, the NCA’s director of investigations, likened the infiltration to “having an inside person in every top organised crime group in the country”.

“This is the broadest and deepest ever UK operation into serious organised crime,” she added.

“This is just the start of the operation and it will be going on for a long time yet … I’d say to any criminal who uses an encrypted phone, you should be very, very worried.”

The devices were “EncroPhones” – bespoke mobiles that claimed to offer complete anonymity with a built-in secure operating system, encrypted messaging and calls, self-destructing texts and even a “panic wipe” function.

The product, priced at £1,500 for a six-month contract, attracted organised crime groups across Europe.

EncroPhones became more popular from 2017 onwards following the takedown of the rival Blackberry PGP network.

Matt Horne, deputy director of the NCA, said the EncroChat network was “completely for criminal purposes”.

He said EncroPhones had become “a requirement” for organised criminal groups involved in the importation of drugs, guns and people to the UK, as well as large-scale money laundering.

The network was used for enforcing drug debt, fighting turf wars over competing markets, making threats and planning attacks or even assassinations.

An EncroChat-enabled phone was previously used by a hitman who murdered Liverpool gangster John Kinsella in May 2018.

The Europe-wide operation against European users started in April, but Ms Holland said the timing during the coronavirus pandemic was a coincidence.

She added that it had “worked to our advantage because more criminals were at home when we came calling”, and police had greater capacity because of a drop in crime.

Police were forced to “intensify” activity on 13 June after EncroChat’s operators realised their platform had been penetrated.

“Today, we had our domain seized illegally by government entities,” read a message sent to users. “We can no longer guarantee the security of your device … you are advised to power off and physically dispose of your device immediately.”

Nines achievements

Nines collaborated with Dave, as well as members of his collective, Ice City Boyz, as well as perform hit single I See You Shining during boxing star Anthony Joshua’s ring walk at Wembley Stadium in September 2018.

It was in this song that he said “only talk packs on the encros”

The song was produced by Steel Bangles and Zeph Ellis.

Despite his success, music wasn’t always on his radar.

Nines starred in short film “crabs in a bucket” on his YouTube

Following the death of his father and murder of his brother when he was 18 it had a massive effect on him.

In his last interview with Chuckie online, he recounted a conversation with his mum that changed his mind on becoming a rapper.

“I never planned to do music.

I went to college for a couple of weeks but that wasn’t really for me.

Then my mum was onto me to do something positive with my life, so I told her I’d become a rapper.

I’m still the same guy as before, it doesn’t matter how big I get.

” It’s this authenticity that is resonating with so many people.

He’s not all talk, either, as he’s all about his community.

In the same interview as mentioned before, he discusses being a mentor for the younger members of his area.

“I speak to the young bucks here. I chill with them, and sometimes I might just listen, but other times I’ll have words.

Don’t get me wrong, they get into trouble.

But they’ve got us to listen to.

And it was the same for us, we had the elders.”

This comes through in his music – this sense of pride of where he’s come from, but also this sense of making sure that those who come after him have better conditions.

How long will Nines get ?

Nines played a leading role according to the prosecution and this means he is a category one offender.

The operation was significant and involved over 20 kilos.

The courts have a system they use to determine the appropriate sentence for a defendant.

Nines in “Clout” music video

Step 1 – Determine the offence category

The court should determine the offender’s culpability (role) and the harm caused (quantity) with reference only to the factors listed in the tables below.

In assessing culpability, the sentencer should weigh up all the factors of the case to determine role. Where there are characteristics present which fall under different role categories, or where the level of the offender’s role is affected by the scale of the operation, the court should balance these characteristics to reach a fair assessment of the offender’s culpability. 

Culpability demonstrated by the offender’s role

One or more of these characteristics may demonstrate the offender’s role. These lists are not exhaustive.

Leading role:

  • Directing or organising buying and selling on a commercial scale
  • Substantial links to, and influence on, others in a chain
  • Close links to original source
  • Expectation of substantial financial or other advantage
  • Uses business as cover
  • Abuses a position of trust or responsibility

Significant role:

  • Operational or management function within a chain
  • Involves others in the operation whether by pressure, influence, intimidation or reward
  • Expectation of significant financial or other advantage, (save where this advantage is limited to meeting the offender’s own habit) whether or not operating alone
  • Some awareness and understanding of scale of operation

Lesser role:

  • Performs a limited function under direction
  • Engaged by pressure, coercion, intimidation, grooming and/ or control
  • Involvement through naivety, immaturity or exploitation
  • No influence on those above in a chain
  • Very little, if any, awareness or understanding of the scale of operation
  • If own operation, solely for own use (considering reasonableness of account in all the circumstances)
  • Expectation of limited, if any, financial or other advantage (including meeting the offender’s own habit)

Harm

In assessing harm, quantity is determined by the weight of the product.

Category of harm

Indicative quantities of some common drugs, upon which the starting point is to be based, are given in the table below. Where a drug (such as fentanyl or its agonists) is not listed in the table below, sentencers should expect to be provided with expert evidence to assist in determining the potency of the particular drug and in equating the quantity in the case with the quantities set out in the guidelines in terms of the harm caused. There will often be no precise calculation possible, but courts are reminded that in cases of particularly potent drugs, even very small quantities may be held to be equivalent to large quantities of the drugs listed.

Category 1

  • Heroin, cocaine – 5kg
  • Ecstasy – 7,000 tablets*
  • MDMA – 5kg
  • LSD – 250,000 squares
  • Amphetamine – 20kg
  • Cannabis – 200kg
  • Ketamine – 5kg
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’) –very large quantity indicative of an industrial scale operation

Category 2

  • Heroin, cocaine – 1kg
  • Ecstasy – 1,300 tablets*
  • MDMA – 1kg
  • LSD – 25,000 squares
  • Amphetamine – 4kg
  • Cannabis – 40kg
  • Ketamine – 1kg
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’)  – large quantity indicative of a commercial operation

Category 3

  • Heroin, cocaine – 150g
  • Ecstasy –200 tablets*
  • MDMA – 150g
  • LSD – 2,500 squares
  • Amphetamine – 750g
  • Cannabis – 6kg
  • Ketamine – 150g
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (for example ‘spice’)  – smaller quantity between categories 2 and 4

Category 4

  • Heroin, cocaine – 5g
  • Ecstasy – 13 tablets*
  • MDMA – 5g
  • LSD – 170 squares
  • Amphetamine – 20g
  • Cannabis – 100g
  • Ketamine – 5g
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists  (for example ‘spice’) – very small quantity

*Ecstasy tablet quantities based on a typical quantity of 150mg MDMA per tablet[1]

Step 2 – Starting point and category range

Having determined the category at step one, the court should use the corresponding starting point to reach a sentence within the category range below. The starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions. A case of particular gravity, reflected by multiple features of culpability or harm in step one, could merit upward adjustment from the starting point before further adjustment for aggravating or mitigating features, set out below.

Where the operation is on the most serious and commercial scale, involving a quantity of drugs significantly higher than category 1, sentences of 20 years and above may be appropriate, depending on the offender’s role.

Where the defendant is dependent on or has a propensity to misuse drugs and there is sufficient prospect of success, a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement under part 10 of Schedule 9 of the Sentencing Code can be a proper alternative to a short or moderate length custodial sentence.

Sentencers should be aware that there is evidence of a disparity in sentence outcomes for this offence which indicates that a higher proportion of Black, Asian and Other ethnicity offenders receive an immediate custodial sentence than White offenders. There may be many reasons for these differences, but in order to apply the guidelines fairly sentencers may find useful information and guidance at Chapter 8 paragraphs 185 to 193 of the Equal Treatment Bench Book.

CLASS ALEADING ROLESIGNIFICANT ROLELESSER ROLE
Category 1Starting point 
14 years’ custody
Starting point 
10 years’ custody
Starting point 
8 years’ custody
Category range 
12 – 16 years’ custody
Category range 
9 – 12 years’ custody
Category range 
6 – 9 years’ custody
Category 2Starting point 
11 years’ custody
Starting point 
8 years’ custody
Starting point 
6 years’ custody
Category range 
9 – 13 years’ custody
Category range 
6 years 6 months’ – 10 years’ custody
Category range 
5 – 7 years’ custody
Category 3Starting point 
8 years 6 months’ custody
Starting point 
6 years’ custody
Starting point 
3 years’ custody
Category range 
6 years 6 months’ – 10 years’ custody
Category range 
5 – 7 years’ custody
Category range 
18 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category 4Starting point 
5 years’ custody
Starting point 
3 years’ custody
Starting point 
Low level community order
Category range 
4 years 6 months’ – 7 years 6 months’ custody
Category range 
18 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category range 
Band A fine – 18 months’ custody
CLASS BLEADING ROLESIGNIFICANT ROLELESSER ROLE
Category 1Starting point 
8 years’ custody
Starting point 
5 years 6 months’ custody
Starting point 
4 years’ custody
Category range 
7 – 10 years’ custody
Category range 
5 – 7 years’ custody
Category range 
2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category 2Starting point 
6 years’ custody
Starting point 
4 years’ custody
Starting point 
2 years’ custody
Category range 
4 years 6 months’ – 8 years’ custody
Category range 
2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category range 
18 months’ – 3 years’ custody
Category 3Starting point 
4 years’ custody
Starting point 
2 years’ custody
Starting point 
 9 months’ custody
Category range 
2 years 6 months’ – 5 years’ custody
Category range 
18 months’ – 3 years’ custody
Category range 
12 weeks’ – 18 months’ custody
Category 4Starting point 
18 months’ custody
Starting point 
High level community order
Starting point 
Band C fine
Category range 
26 weeks’ – 3 years’ custody
Category range 
Medium level community order – 9 months’ custody
Category range 
Discharge – 26 weeks’ custody
CLASS CLEADING ROLESIGNIFICANT ROLELESSER ROLE
Category 1Starting point 
5 years’ custody
Starting point 
3 years’ custody
Starting point 
18 months’ custody
Category range 
4 – 8 years’ custody
Category range 
2 – 5 years’ custody
Category range 
1 – 3 years’ custody
Category 2Starting point 
3 years 6 months’ custody
Starting point 
18 months’ custody
Starting point 
26 weeks’ custody
Category range 
2 – 5 years’ custody
Category range 
1 – 3 years’ custody
Category range 
12 weeks’ – 18 months’ custody
Category 3Starting point 
18 months’ custody
Starting point 
26 weeks’ custody
Starting point 
High level community order
Category range 
1 – 3 years’ custody
Category range 
12 weeks’ – 18 months’ custody
Category range 
Medium level community order – 26 weeks’ custody
Category 4Starting point 
9 months’ custody
Starting point 
High level community order
Starting point 
Band B fine
Category range 
High level community order – 2 years’ custody
Category range 
Medium level community order – 12 weeks’ custody
Category range 
Discharge – High level community order

Behind the scene of Skrapz music video ft Nines

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