Kilo blocks of cocaine and firearms bought and sold on Encrochat

Two West Midlands men who were trading in drugs and firearms have been locked up for almost 40 years between them.

Max Williams from Wolverhampton and Daniel Morgan from Birmingham tried to hide their illegal and dangerous dealings behind encrypted phone chats.

But they were unmasked as part of an international operation by West Midlands Police officers.

The huge investigation is one strand of our Operation Target, which is our focus on tackling the most serious criminals in the West Midlands.

 

 

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The pair thought they’d evade detection using EncroChat, a phone messaging service favoured by criminals because they believed messages on it could not be seen by law enforcement.

But they were wrong and investigators began pulling together a case against the pair.

Williams was found to be a broker in firearms, ammunition and class A drugs and the decoded chats showed that he was trading in semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, as well as ammunition.

Hiding behind the user handle of Skilledtwig he spoke openly about his business and had regular conversations with Morgan, who was known as Noisy Jade.

Both men were also involved in the buying and selling large quantities of cocaine, heroin, MDMA and different strains of cannabis in addition to 100s of pills which are believed to have been ecstasy.

But in 2020 law enforcement agencies in Europe had developed a way to collect to data from EncroChat, and the information was shared with officers from our Regional Organised Crime Unit for the West Midlands Region (ROCUWM)

Police found chats showing the men sourced the drugs and took a wage, or as they put it ‘a drink’ off the top of the costs.

By cross-referencing their chats, mobile data, and images from their phones our investigators were able to link them to their criminal trade.

Among those images were a semi-automatic pistol which was being traded with another firearm for around £15,000, and a kilo block of cocaine, stamped with the word ‘Paris’.

Most of the discussions the men had around drugs talked of quantities in kilograms, half kilograms and quarter kilograms.

Morgan was arrested on 10 December 2020, and an address he was using in Tyndale Crescent, Birmingham, was searched. As well as quantities of cocaine and heroin valued at over £5,000 being seized, around £85,000 in cash was also recovered.

Williams, aged 36, was arrested from his home in Sambrook Road, Wolverhampton, on 11 December 2020 and a number of phones were seized.

Williams denied supplying class A and B drugs and the supply of firearms and ammunition but was found guilty after a four-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court in October last year.  He was jailed for 24 years on 2 May.

Morgan, aged 40, of Parkeston Crescent, Birmingham, who pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing, was sentenced to 15 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Cooke from ROCUWM said: “This was a highly intricate investigation which has seen us break up a supply chain of both firearms and drugs.

“As a result we’ve stopped significant quantities of drugs and numerous firearms from ending up on our streets. And both these men have now been given jail terms that will see them remain bars and out of our communities for a substantial amount of time.

“Our commitment to removing guns and drugs from our streets as Op Target continues force-wide, with the us taking a defiant stand against a range of serious and organised crime.”

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesperson said: “The successful prosecution and sentencing of the Max Williams and Daniel Morgan is a positive step in the fight against drugs and weapons trafficking.

“The defendants thought they could evade detection using the encrypted communications service Encrochat but thanks to strong collaborative working between the CPS and West Midlands Police, French authorities and other criminal justice agencies, they have been held accountable for their actions, keeping these dangerous commodities off our streets.

“It is hoped that the sentence will act as a deterrent for others who use encrypted networks to commit serious offending.”

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