Men who supplied 13 kilos of drugs jailed after Encrochat bust

Three men who supplied approximately 13 kilos of cocaine and discussed criminal cash assets of over £1.1 million have been jailed for over 35 years in the latest under Operation Venetic – the UK’s biggest ever law enforcement operation.

Jake Meade (08/09/1988), Taunton Road, Chadderton, Dale Reid (18/04/1990), of Saxwood Avenue, Blackley, and Liam McGrath (21/01/1987), of no fixed abode, were all jailed yesterday (4 April 2022) after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply class A drugs.

An investigation by detectives found that Meade played the leading role in the organised crime group who used encrypted phones to operate and distribute cocaine.

The group supplied over 13 kilos of cocaine over a seven week period with prices ranging from £37k to £40k per kilo.

Following analysis of encrypted messages over a seven week period, it was found that the group were involved in the high level supply of multi-kilo quantities of cocaine. Meade, operating under the name of ‘Cookietender’ on his device, orchestrated events with the assistant of Reid – also known as ‘Navalhound’ and ‘Usualbee’. Both men then utilised their trusted courier and storeman, McGrath.

In the messages it was also revealed that the three discussed purchasing a van and installing a hide within it to conceal their drugs and money rather than using a backpack. Their drug dealing operation came to an end when officers swooped in and arrested Meade and Reid following a warrants on 30 July 2020.

Officers seized over £43k in cash, three vehicles, large amounts of designer clothing, handbags and jewellery including a Cartier watch and bracelet, a diamond ring and Louis Vuitton bracelets.

A proceeds of crime hearing will now follow seeking to reclaim the criminally acquired assets and properties.

Meade and Reid were both jailed for 14 years and five months and McGrath was jailed for seven years at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Operation Venetic – a nationwide crackdown led by the National Crime Agency (NCA) into the communications platform EncroChat – is the UK’s biggest ever law enforcement operation.

Over 200 arrests have been made under the operation since it launched in the region almost two years ago which has seen detectives investigate numerous investigations into hundreds of high-level suspects.

Detective Sergeant Paul Halliwell, from GMP’s Organised Crime Coordination Unit, said: “This was a sophisticated and organised drugs operation which led to multiple kilos of cocaine being distributed across the region. They attempted to hide their operation by using the sophisticated and expensive Encrochat technology but were caught out by us and we were able to see the extent in which they used the phones to run their operation.

“A huge quantity of drugs have been taken off the streets as a result and three more drug dealers have been put behind bars for a considerable number of years, putting an end to their drug dealing days which they attempted to cover up.

“GMP is dedicated to relentless pursuing and disrupting those flooding the region with drugs and will do all we can to bring those involved to justice. Drugs not only pose a risk to those who take them, but they are also often one of the biggest factors that lead to serious violence on our streets.

“Anyone with information about drugs in their area can report it online or by using our LiveChat service. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

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