Luke Waters, 26, 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 was linked to the platform handle of “decentsatin”, and found to be communicating with other known drug dealers, including 42-year-old Jaspreet Virdee who was jailed for 11-and-a-half years in March this year.
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.
On July 28 last year, he was stopped and arrested by police on the A47 heading towards Eye in Peterborough after reports of a suspected drug deal involving that vehicle, but released under investigation after he claimed £3,914 in cash on him was for a car he was on his way to buy.
Following further investigation, Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, was arrested at a fuel station in Bourne, Lincolnshire, on December 29 last year.
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.
A download of his mobile phone also uncovered images 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.
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.
He also admitted assault by beating after he punched a man in the face over a fallout with his brother on 27 December.
He appeared at Peterborough Crown Court today (Friday July 1), where he was sentenced to ten years and two months in prison.
Sentencing, Judge Matthew Lowe said Waters was involved in the wholesale supply of class A drugs and had acted for financial gain, with an abundance of evidence showing his significant assets.
He added that Waters was close to importation sources and aggravating factors to his sentence included his previous convictions for drug supply, continued involvement in drug supply until December 2021, utilising technology for his activities.
Judge Lowe said there was little in the way of mitigation other than Waters’ young age.
Detective Constable Andy MacDonald, who investigated, said: “This investigation began in spring 2020 as part of Operation Venetic, the UK’s biggest ever law enforcement operation, 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.
“The revelation allowed us to view messages and other media sent between users of the platform as they discussed large-scale criminality such as the movement of drugs and weapons.
“Drug dealers such as Waters think they can operate above the law, however we will always catch up with them in then end.
“We will now be looking to use Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to strip him of his ill-gotten gains.”
Anyone with concerns or information about drug dealing can report online here.