Half-a-million pound cocaine conspirator jailed for decade after EncroChat bust

A man from Salford involved in a class A drug conspiracy worth over £500k has been jailed for 10 years after the takedown of EncroChat exposed his role in the supply of at least five kilos of high-purity cocaine.

Steven Moodie (32) was unmasked as the man behind the user handle ‘Fakehippo’ on the encrypted network following an investigation by detectives in our Serious and Organised Crime Group.

Investigators trawled through in excess of 30,000 lines of chat captured from a three-month period in early 2020 that saw Moodie seen to be selling cocaine at £40,000 per kilo to fellow dealers.

This included 27-year-old Jonathan Musgrove (known on EncroChat as ‘Big-Tyson’), of The Quays, who was sentenced last month to over 16 years in jail after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine, ketamine, and firearms.

Forensic analysis of messages involving Moodie revealed images of blocks of cocaine that had been sent to him and Moodie agreed to meet potential buyers and sellers at locations in Salford and Manchester – often retail car parks.

After the takedown of EncroChat and the launch of the National Crime Agency’s Operation Venetic – the largest nationwide law enforcement operation in UK history – detectives were able to identify messages sent by ‘Fakehippo’ as Moodie by using cell-site analysis and personal messages from within the download.

Following over a year of evading police, Moodie was spotted on Regent Road driving a black VW Polo on 28 September 2021 by an officer from our Tactical Vehicle Intercept Unit before he was pulled over a short distance away on Ordsall Road where he was found to be wanted by us and subsequently arrested.

A warrant was executed at Moodie’s address on Ordsall Lane later that day, where officers discovered around £20,000 in cash and £100,000’s worth of men’s designer clothing which was also seized.

He became one of over 210 suspects arrests made as part of our strand of Op Venetic, which has seen across Greater Manchester alone over £2.5million in cash seized as well as nearly a dozen firearms, over 1100 rounds of ammunition, over 12 kilos of class A and 25 kilos of class B drugs, and over £300k of assets including luxury jewellery and vehicles.

Yesterday (Thursday 24 February), Moodie was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square) to 10 years in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and ketamine.

Detective Constable Dave Moran, of our Serious and Organised Crime Group, said: “It’s with great satisfaction to see Moodie finally ordered to spend a decade behind bars after what was a prolific and sustained period of high-level dealing that was flooding Salford and the wider area with substantial amounts of class A drugs.

“We know how damaging these drugs can be – particularly how they have a detrimental impact on the vulnerable in our society through its use and exploitation – and what cases like this show is how unscrupulous people like Moodie take no shame in profiting from such misery.

“Now he’ll face a good number of years off the streets and will be unable to help the dissemination of illicit drugs in our region, and our work will continue to bring further offenders to justice who had previously hidden behind the EncroChat network to operate in this way.”

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