Two brothers jailed in EncroChat drugs conspiracy
Two brothers who used encrypted phones to deal in massive amounts of heroin, amphetamines and cannabis have been jailed.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Martin Grant, 33 and Liam Grant, 25, both from Old Swan in Liverpool, conspired with each other to sell drugs on a large scale.
They also ran their own illegal enterprises with other people to sell drugs.
Martin Grant had the leading role in the conspiracy and was at the head of the enterprise. In the period of the investigation he dealt in cocaine, heroin, amphetamine and cannabis that had a potential value of around £900,000.
Liam Grant dealt mainly in cannabis, in amounts that had the potential value of £70,000.
Analysis of the encrypted phones also revealed that both Martin and Liam Grant discussed the use of violence to enforce their illegal drug business.
Martin Grant used the nicknames “Skin” and “Skinny”, while his brother Liam had the nicknames “Lil Skin”.
They used so-called 'EncroChat' phones to run their business. Organised crime gangs have been using these phones for some time and believed they could not be hacked into by the police.
However, in June 2020, international police forces managed to access the EncroChat devices. Several prosecutions have followed throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom.
EncroChat users do not use their real names, but false names, known as 'handles'. The police have managed to establish the true identity of the users by analysing their individual messages and personal information.
Martin Grant had the handle 'Swiftorchid' and Liam Grant had the handle, 'Beigepalm'. Data about addresses, personal information and relationships and photographs extracted from the phones linked them to the brothers.
The brothers were arrested on 30 September 2021 and initially pleaded Not Guilty. But on 28 February 2022, at Liverpool Crown Court, they changed their pleas to Guilty.
Martin Grant pleaded Guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. Liam Grant pleaded Guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.
On 30 May 2022, at Liverpool Crown Court, Liam Grant was sentenced to a total of four-and-a-half years' imprisonment. On 10 June 2022, also at Liverpool Crown Court, Martin Grant was sentenced to 14 years and six months.
District Crown Prosecutor Jonathan Egan, of CPS Mersey-Cheshire's Complex Casework Unit, said: “Martin and Liam Grant were both heavily involved in the dangerous and illegal world of drug dealing.
“They worked together and ran their own illicit businesses – businesses that cause misery to both individuals and communities.
“The messages that were found on the phones showed they were prepared to use violence to protect their illegal trade. Merseyside Police and the Crown Prosecution Service built a strong case against these two men and they eventually pleaded guilty.
“Criminals thought they had beaten the authorities when they started using EncroChat phones but law enforcement agencies cracked the system and Liam and Martin Grant are just two of the many offenders who are now being brought to justice.”