A Folkestone man has been jailed following an investigation into a drugs network which used the EncroChat phone system to organise deals.

Ryan Nicholl, of Folkestone, together with others used the encrypted communications system to exchange messages with organised criminals to buy and sell large quantities of drugs.

However, the group were unaware that the network had been infiltrated by police and was being actively monitored.

An investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate linked the group’s activity to an encrypted mobile phone and £315,000 in cash which was seized following a car stop in Deal in May 2020.

Analysis of the messages showed the sale of more than 30 kilos of cocaine had been organised through EncroChat, with photographs of illegal substances often shared before a price was agreed.

Nicholl Latest 2
The cash seized in Deal

Nicholl and another man were arrested on 23 November 2020, when simultaneous warrants were carried out at their Folkestone addresses by Kent Police. They were charged the next day.

At Canterbury Crown Court on Wednesday 13 September 2023, Nicholl, from Folkestone, was jailed for 16 years after admitting conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs at a previous hearing.

A 33-year-old man, also of Folkestone, was jailed for four and a half years in June 2022 for drugs offences and the driver of the stopped car, a 37-year-old man from Crawley, was sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment in July 2020 for acquiring criminal property.

Detective Constable Aaron Chapman, Kent Police’s investigating officer, said: ‘Three members of this criminal network have now been taken off the streets of Kent and jailed for a total of more than 20 years.

‘We won’t tolerate drug dealing groups exploiting vulnerable people and bringing crime to Kent and, as this case shows, we will work with partners to intercept communications and bring them to justice.’

By Ed

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