Chorlton man jailed for drugs offences after encrypted messages cracked

Cornelius McFadden (10/05/1975) of Ivy Green Road, Chorlton, was sentenced to eight years yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs (cocaine and heroin).

Following Operation Venetic – a nationwide operation that has seen law enforcement agencies across the UK join together and share expertise in order to break through the highly sophisticated and encrypted global communication service – data packs were processed by the National Crime Agency and allocated to various law enforcement agencies.

One of the data packs given to Greater Manchester Police contained data downloaded from an Encrophone using the handle “TheUnit.”

After several months of dedicated investigative work, detectives were able to identify “TheUnit” as a codename used by McFadden.

Content on the phone revealed messages from McFadden over a three month period between April 2020 to June 2020 which referenced the exchange of drugs for cash as well as avoiding police and images of large amounts of cash and of drugs.

Following the analysis of these messages, in July 2021, police carried out warrants at three addresses in Chorlton, Cheshire and Stockport, resulting in the arrest of McFadden as well as the recovery of a number of items including phones, body armour and high value property including a watch valued at £8,000.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court yesterday (11 May 2022).

Detective Constable Paul Shacklady of the City of Manchester said: “McFadden is a devious individual who thought he could carry out illicit activities and remain undetected by using encrypted messages to communicate.

“Drugs can have a devastating effect on our communities, and since the breakthrough of the encrochat system police have been able to disrupt numerous Organised Crime Groups and stop their unlawful activities.

“I hope this sentence sends a clear message that no one is above the law. As criminal technology advances and changes, so do our investigative techniques as we work to ensure that those involved in criminal activity face justice for their actions.”

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