Three men who conspired together in plots to supply guns and drugs have been jailed in a National Crime Agency investigation.
Drug dealers Jamaine Salmon, 32, and Gary Fenton, 45, dealt wholesale, multi-kilo levels to customers across the north west of England.
The duo also did business together on Encrochat, the encrypted comms platform taken down in 2020 by international law enforcement.
Evidence produced by Operation Venetic – the UK’s law enforcement response to EncroChat – showed Salmon, who lived in Manchester city centre’s Northern Quarter, and Fenton exchanged firearms and cocaine.
Salmon, who used the handle Maserati.Rick on the platform communicated with Fenton, known as Rarepalm, to strike various deals.
On 4 April 2020, Fenton, of Threadfold Way, Bolton, Lancs, asked Salmon if he had “another strap” – slang for gun.
Salmon replied that he had one with 30 bullets and their conversation indicated Salmon had previously supplied Fenton with a firearm for £7,750.
A week later Salmon sent Fenton a list of guns that were available to buy including an Uzi submachine gun and a Skorpion machine pistol. Fenton then shared the list with his criminal contacts.
Several weeks later in June, Salmon bought a Skorpion firearm and then sold it on to Fenton.
In addition to discussing sourcing heroin, Fenton regularly bought cocaine – at around £40,000 a kilo, from Salmon, who was previously convicted of conspiring to supply Class A drugs in 2012.
Fenton used Karl Francomb, 45, to take delivery of the drugs at his home in Cranberry Fold Court, Darwen, Blackburn, Lancs, and hand over the money in exchange.
Salmon and Fenton both also dealt with other criminals.
Between April and June 2020, EncroChat messages showed Salmon dealing heroin, cocaine, mixing agents, ecstasy, ketamine and cannabis. In that period Fenton also offered to deal cocaine at around £40,000 a kilo to other offenders.
On 13 October 2021 the three men – all unemployed – were arrested.
Inside Salmon’s flat, NCA officers found £25,000 in cash and two Rolex watches worth £45,000; one alone was worth £35,000.
When the NCA raided Fenton’s apartment he threw his iPhone out of a window but officers recovered it and also discovered £60,000 in cash inside the flat.
A small bag of cocaine was also found in Francomb’s home when he was arrested.
The three declined to comment in interview although Salmon broke down and cried when faced with the evidence against him.
Salmon and Fenton – who was previously sentenced to 10 years in jail for drugs offences – and Francomb admitted the counts against them.
Today at Manchester Crown Court Salmon was sentenced to 22 years, Fenton to 17 years and Francomb to eight years.
Dean Wallbank, NCA operations manager, said: “These were very dangerous men whose only interest was making vast amounts of money. They didn’t care how lethal their commodities were or who they ended up with.
“We built an overwhelming case against them and they had no option but to plead guilty.
“The NCA works with law enforcement partners at home and abroad to fight firearms and drugs threats, and this case shows how intrinsically linked they are.
“We will continue to do everything we can to protect the public from the harm that individuals such as these cause to society.”