Another member of an organised crime group (OCG) has been jailed for over 14 years, the nineteenth member of the group to be jailed, for running a drugs network in Bushey, Watford, St Albans and further afield.
Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Command set about dismantling the well-established OCG who had been using an encrypted phone app called ‘EncroChat’ to communicate with OCG members and plan crimes.
The Operation Relentless team had been carrying out an intensive investigation of the OCG since August 2019, when in March 2020 police benefited from a significant breakthrough in the fight against organised crime. The National Crime Agency (NCA) used its powers to gain access to the encryption protocols, passing on intelligence to police forces to identify criminals and their activities.
Fifty-year-old Ian Harris of Pentland Road, Bushey was originally arrested in April 2020, for his directly involvement in the acquisition and onward supply of at least 17 kilos of cocaine. Harris appeared at St Albans Crown Court on Monday 9 May and was sentenced to 14 years and five months for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Co-conspirators Scott Wells, Adam Mayling, Jason Walton-Whitelock, Philip Blackburne, Carl Walker and Ricky Green have already been sentenced for their involvement. As part of the wider investigation 19 individuals have so far been sentenced to 153 years imprisonment. Six individuals remain to be dealt with by the courts.
Detective Inspector Sarah Corr, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Relentless team, said: “We have been able to dismantle a number of OCGs operating in the county using the data recovered from EncroChat. Over the past two years we have made significant progress in shutting down drug supply networks, jailing criminals and seizing large amounts of cash and drugs.
“Organised crime groups use violence, supply drugs and commit a whole range of crimes that pose a real threat to the community. Operation Relentless is Hertfordshire Constabulary’s response to this on-going threat. As part of this work, we depend on information from members of the public to help us crack down on drug-related crime. Any information you can provide, no matter how small it may seem, could help us to identify and apprehend drug dealers.”
You can report information about a crime online or speak to an operator in our Force Communications Room via our online web chat. You also call the non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress call 999.