Rolex watches seized during EncroChat raid at suspect’s home

Rolex watches, Cartier jewellery and thousands in bank notes were found when EncroChat police stormed into a suspected dealer’s home.

The 34-year-old was present when police attended the property in Crosby just after 5am today.

The swoop was part of Merseyside Police’s involvement in Operation Venetic, a national investigation into the use of encrypted mobile devices, commonly referred to as EncroChat, which saw criminals adopt and hide behind code names.

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Police said they “seized high value Rolex watches, Cartier jewellery and several thousand pounds in cash” in the raid “as part of an ongoing investigation into drugs supply in Merseyside and beyond” this morning.

The spokesperson added: “Officers attended the home of a 34-year-old man from Crosby at 5.20am and arrested him on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs, conspiracy to supply Class B drugs, and possession of criminal property.”

Police said the arrest comes just over a year since Operation Venetic and the takedown of Encrochat became public.

A Merseyside Police spokesperson said: “Since then we have arrested more than 130 people, charged 107 people and seen 31 people convicted to a total of 366 years in prison.

“We have seized four loaded firearms and ammunition, £1.7m in cash and 72kg of cocaine and heroin.”

The man arrested this morning was taken into custody for questioning by police.

Operation Venetic has involved European law enforcement agencies working with the National Crime Agency and supported across the UK by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units.

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Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said: “The arrest yesterday is another great result for Operation Venetic and shows that while a lot has been achieved so far, with dozens of criminals jailed and drugs and cash seized, our work to disrupt drug dealing continues.

“These criminals may have believed their use of Encrochat would help them evade justice – but we have officers working round-the-clock on the streets and behind the scenes to gather intelligence and evidence that will inevitably lead to them being given an early morning call.

“Working with other forces, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the National Crime Agency, we will continue to identify opportunities to take action such as this to safeguard our communities and reduce the risk of serious violence this criminality can pose.

“I can reassure the communities of Merseyside that the force will continue its fight against those involved in serious organised crime to make our communities safer.”

Police say if you have any information about suspected drug dealing in your area, please contact @MerPolCC, 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.

Around 60,000 users of EncroChat have been identified worldwide, with about 10,000 of them in the UK – all involved in coordinating and planning the supply and distribution of drugs and weapons, money laundering and other criminal activity.

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