Peterborough drug dealer ordered to pay back more than £225,000 of ill gotten gains

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Luke Waters was jailed for 10 years in 2022

A Peterborough drug dealer who was jailed for a decade in 2022 has been ordered to pay back more than £225,000 from his criminal gains.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing was held at Cambridge Crown Court on Thursday (13 June) where Luke Waters, 28, was found to have benefited just under £1,270,000 through organising the large-scale distribution of cocaine and heroin before being caught out after “secret” messages were cracked.

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Peterborough drug dealer responsible for distributing £500k worth of cocaine and...
Luke Waters and some of the cash foundLuke Waters and some of the cash found
Luke Waters and some of the cash found

He was one of many people found to be dealing class A drugs as part of Operation Venetic – the UK’s response to one of the world’s largest providers of encrypted communications, EncroChat, being cracked by international law enforcement.

Waters, previously of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, was linked to the platform handle of “decentsatin”, and found to be communicating with other known drug dealers.

The encrypted messages showed Waters confirming his cocaine had “landed” in the UK and offering to sell it to other dealers in the region of £40,000 per kilo.

Evidence was found of him living a lavish lifestyle and boasting about high-end purchases of watches, having “street trophies” and splashing cash on social media.

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Detectives uncovered images on his mobile phone of what appeared to be Waters throwing a phone into the sea, with the caption “bye Encro”, after EncroChat had been decrypted by law enforcement.

In December 2021, he was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin, as well as acquiring criminal property, all of which he admitted in court, and was jailed for ten years and two months in July 2022.

Just over £48,000 has already been seized by police, however, at the hearing held last week, Waters was ordered to hand over a further £176,669.60 from his ‘available assets’ – totalling £225,244 – within three months or face a further three years in prison.

Detective Constable Andy MacDonald, who investigated, said: “This investigation began in spring 2020 which saw data uncovered following the seizure of servers linked to the EncroChat platform – a encryption tool used exclusively by criminals to communicate with each other.

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“We obtained an abundance of evidence proving Waters generated significant amounts of money through the sale of drugs, as well as purchasing high-value items including designer clothing and Rolex watches worth tens of thousands of pounds each.

“Waters’ criminal business benefitted him to the tune of £1.2million – while he has only been ordered to pay the remaining ‘hidden’ assets of £176k, the full benefit figure will remain with him for life, meaning he will be liable to having any future assets confiscated if suitable. Half of the money will go to the government, the remainder is then split equally between the Crown Prosecution Service, His Majesty’s Court Service and police.

“I would like to thank the Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU) within the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) for their assistance with this investigation – through joint working we have ensured a significant drug dealer has been stripped of his illicit gains.”