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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Adam Everett

Secret drug plots of 'Big Dunc', 'Musical Salmon', 'Educated Goose' and 'Heroic Fox'

Since police infiltrated EncroChat in 2020, hundreds of users of the encrypted messaging service have been jailed after their secret plots to supply drugs and guns were uncovered.

Many were handed huge sentences after being incriminated by their own messages to other crooks, which they believed would never see the light of day. Dozens have been locked up here in Merseyside alone.

As part of the network, members are required to go under a pseudonym known as a handle. And these are some of the most unique nicknames which were used by criminals from our region, as revealed in the courts during 2022.

Big Dunc

John Karl Southern, of Burscough Street, Ormskirk (Merseyside Police)

John Southern went by the handle "BigDunc".

The 34-year-old was found to have supplied 3.8kg of cocaine, 76kg of cannabis and 3kg of ketamine between March 2020 and June 2020. However, detectives said evidence showed Southern, of Burscough Street in Ormskirk, had been involved in drug dealing since March 2019.

Southern denied any wrongdoing but was found guilty after a trial of conspiring to supply the drugs. He was jailed for 15 years.

Musical Salmon

Wesley Kavanagh was busted over messages from an EncroChat device activated after the network had already been hacked.

The drug dealer had picked up a phone enabled with the software from a side street in Oldham in a £1,400 deal in May 2020. By that time, the system had already been compromised by an international operation that allowed texts to be obtained by police.

Kavanagh, 36, sourced his EncroChat-enabled phone through his friend Lee Taylor, with whom he dealt cocaine and cannabis. Taylor, 34, was already trading under the handle "MuscialSalmon" and Kavanagh started using the name "MysticBlade".

Texts showed the Warrington dealers used an adulterant nicknamed 'marshmallow' to bulk up cocaine before flogging it to customers. Kavanagh, of Stockport Road in Thelwall, and Taylor, of Longshaw Street in Dallam, both admitted conspiring to supply class A and B drugs, said to be at least six kilos of cocaine and at least nine kilos of cannabis.

They were both jailed for 12 years.

Crab Cookie

Peter Ginley was a member of a large criminal network which worked to flood the streets with class A and B drugs.

He tried to escape detection by using an encrypted EncroChat phone with the handle "CrabCookie". Cash and cocaine worth £120,000 was seized after he and another crook were both arrested in July 2020.

The 33-year-old could be linked to the account through personal details he shared in messages. He was arrested at his home in Heath Road, Garston, where police found more than £13,200 in cash and the box for his Encro device.

Ginley was found guilty of conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin, cannabis and ketamine after a trial. He was jailed for seven and a half years.

Heroic Fox

Jacob Bullen, who stashed £10,000 of high purity cocaine in a fridge, was exposed as EncroChat drug dealer "HeroicFox".

Bullen was caught with two large blocks of cocaine when police raided his girlfriend's home in Appleton Road, Walton, on December 16 2020. The 26-year-old, who claimed "it's not mine, I'm looking after it for someone else", was jailed for six years and eight months in January 2021.

But on the day of his arrest, he handed over his iPhone 7 and the PIN to the device, which was sent away for examination by specialists. The content of that phone, combined with EncroChat messages, revealed his role as a £2m drug and cash courier "HeroicFox".

Bullen admitted new charges of conspiring to supply cocaine, heroin and cannabis. The plot was brought down as part of a military police operation.

He was jailed for five years, to be served consecutively to his existing prison term.

Educated Goose

Philip Read, who used the EncroChat handle "EducatedGoose", hid 12 kilos of heroin in a bedroom.

He was also trusted to handle large amounts of cash and use it to buy ketamine and heroin from other dealers on the encrypted messaging service. The 43-year-old said he fell into criminality after running up gambling debts as he used drugs for deals in Merseyside during the first five months of 2020.

When police raided Read's home in Portico Lane, Eccleston in March last year they found 12 kilos of heroin stored in a bedroom. He admitted conspiring to supply Class A and Class B drugs and conspiring to convert criminal property.

Read was jailed for 12 years.

Jurgen Six Nineteen

John Cass (Merseyside Police)

Cocaine "broker" John Cass was involved in the supply of more than £400,000 of drugs on behalf of a mysterious importer known only as "Jurgen".

The 34-year-old, from Kirkby, secretly operated under the pseudonym FrostFortress on the encrypted communications platform EncroChat.

Liverpool Crown Court on Friday that he acted as a "broker and intermediary sourcing large quantities of recently imported class A and B drugs". Cass, of Corbet Close, had 64 other handles stored in the contact list of his Encro phone, with messages exchanged with 22 of them.

In particular, he had liaised with the handle JurgenSixNineteen - described as an "upstream supplier operating outside of the UK". The first-time offender took possession of 10kg of cocaine on his behalf, drugs with a wholesale value of between £365,000 and £425,000.

Cass received commission of approximately £500 per kilo for onward sale of the illicit substances. A range of messages recovered by police detail his negotiations with JurgenSixNineteen, as well as a conversation about the potential of obtaining a gun.

He was linked to the "FrostFortress" handle after being pulled over by police in October last year having been "driving erratically" on Whitefield Drive in Kirkby. He admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, money laundering and possession of criminal property and was jailed for 10 years.

Jabba the Hutt

Anthony Bowden (Merseyside Police)

Heroin smuggler Anthony Bowden was a key member of a major gang run led by "Jabba the Hutt".

The Merseyside-based organised crime group imported and supplied millions of pounds of class A drugs. Anthony Bowden, one of Jabba's most closely trusted associates, was locked up for 21 years over the ring.

This large-scale operation was organised on encrypted communications platform EncroChat. The OCG's boss used a device with the handle "JabbaTheHutt" as he directed the sale of more than 84kg heroin and 17kg cocaine.

Of this amount, the gang had been responsible for the importation of more than 20kg of heroin and 4kg of coke. Personal trainer Bowden operated under the handle "HyenaJaw" and was "closely trusted" by the Star Wars-inspired "head of the operation", arranging the purchase and sale of drugs "on a commercial scale".

Lawless Fly

Liam McHale (Merseyside Police)

Heroin and cocaine dealer Liam McHale trafficked millions of pounds of drugs under the pseudonym "Lawless Fly".

He funded a lavish lifestyle by netting huge sums of money through the trade of illicit substances. EncroChat notes and messages revealed that he had been involved in supply of 84kg of cocaine, 13kg of heroin and 26kg of cannabis as well as the transfer of around £5.5m in cash.

This allowed him to buy a house in Mossley Hill for £270,000, where police discovered "high value" watches, jewellery, clothing and shoes when they raided the address - with a crypto mining rig having been set up in the garage. His texts also bragged of buying a Rolex for £24,000 and bragged, "joining an expensive golf club in Formby" and shopping at a Louis Vuitton store.

McHale - who has no previous convictions - had been working for a plastics firm but was furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic, then moved to a £40k job as a telecoms engineer. The dad admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis and money laundering and was jailed for 11 years.

Cuppa Tea

Terence Page (Merseyside Police)

The drug dealer "thought he was invincible" and was trying to source wholesale amounts of cocaine only days after the birth of his daughter.

Terence Page traded in huge quantities of class A and B substances on EncroChat, using the handles CuppaTea and WorldPossum. The 40-year-old used two different devices on the encrypted communications service and was involved in the supply of at least 14kg of heroin, 1.75kg of cocaine and 2kg of amphetamine.

The broker and middle man was part of an "intricate network which coordinated, sourced and supplied substantial quantities of class A drugs". He was identified as being the man behind the mask of "CuppaTea" and "WorldPossum" after providing personal details within his secret communications, including the names and ages of relatives, as well as referencing his home address.

Cliffs Hard

Clifford McNamee (Merseyside Police)

Clifford McNamee, 47, of Rusland Road, Kirkby and Nathan Sweeney, 46, of Fern Close, Kirkby, were involved in a large-scale conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Sweeney, with the EncroChat handle "RigidForce", and McNamee, who went by "CliffsHard", each owned an encrypted device and were identified based on images and messages sent. Sweeney was sentenced to ten years and one month imprisonment, and McNamee was sentenced to nine years and one month.

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