Walsall dealer used Encrochat to sell kilo blocks of cocaine

A drug dealer involved in the sale and supply of hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of cocaine has been jailed for more than ten years after we exposed his illegal trading.

William Stokes, of Aldridge Road, Walsall, was captured on CCTV handing over money to an associate as part of a drug deal in Sutton Coldfield on 31 March 2020.

The 35-year-old set up the meeting via the encrypted messaging service EncroChat and arrived in his company car at the location – a car park off Boldmere Road – to make a payment of £96,000 for cocaine.

Police started to look closely into Stokes’s activities, unearthing further encrypted messages detailing numerous drug transactions over a four-month period from March to June 2020.


 

 

 

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When decoded, the messages revealed the scale of Stokes’s business with kilograms of cocaine being exchanged in deals each worth tens of thousands of pounds. Data extracted also showed that Stokes – who operated under the EncroChat handle ‘Trendybuster’ – had connections in the drugs trade in Europe.

Following a comprehensive investigation, we arrested Stokes on 29 January 2023.

When questioned, he denied that he was the person caught on CCTV handing over cash, claiming instead that his company car must have been used by a work colleague.

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Stokes did later admit to using the Trendybuster name but insisted that he only used this in an attempt to become a sports agent at an elite level. He denied having ever sent any of the drug related messages.

With more evidence gathered against him Stokes decided to change his plea and pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of class A drugs. He was sentenced to 10 years and two months in prison at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday (2 April).

DCI Peter Cooke, from the Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “William Stokes shifted a significant amount of class A drugs over a relatively short period of time, and that showed us he was a major player in this illicit trade.

“While Stokes claimed he turned to selling drugs to cover gambling debts, he has been rightly deprived of his liberty as a result of his actions.

“Drugs and their associated crimes cause untold misery within our communities. We’re pleased to see Stokes off the streets and we’ll continue to target those like him who are involved in the illegal supply and distribution of drugs.”

We’re tackling criminals like Stokes through Operation Target, acting on intelligence, seizing goods, conducting warrants and targeting suspects in a concerted effort to crack down on serious offences ranging from drug dealing and burglary to cyber-crime and fraud.

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