28-year-old cocaine trafficker was arrested by police for complaining on Encrochat, an encrypted telephone network, about the effects of Covid lockdown on his drug business. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison

  • Jordan Gabriel and Nico Logan ran a drug gang in Greater Manchester
  • They communicated using the EncroChat encrypted telephone network
  • The encrypted telephone network was believed to be completely secure by criminals who used it.
  • European police officers cracked the code, leading to arrests throughout the continent 

After being caught moaning that his drug empire was being cut down by UK lockdown rules, a cocaine dealer has been sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Nico Logan, 28 years old, sent Encrochat messages complaining about his inability to make face-toface deals with Spain’s smugglers as non-essential flights had been blocked by Covid.

He also said he had debts of £26,000 as a result of the rules and he had to recruit a woman working as a ‘key worker’ to drop off consignments of cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy because of him ‘working from home.’

Logan, a Wythenshawe man, wrote to an associate. Logan was using codename FruityKecks’ and grumbled that he needed the pandemic to end so he could arrange meeting arrangements in Spain. I do have one bird that is a key worker. She will drop things off at 150 to 200.

After accessing the network, detectives discovered the messages and arrested Logan along with an accomplice in a large police operation.

Nico Logan

Jordan Gabriel

Nico Logan was sentenced to 16 years in prison after he admitted conspiracy to possess and supply Class A and B drugs. Jordan Gabriel (29), Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester was sentenced to 13 years and a half after he admitted similar charges.

Police uncovered this photograph of Logan's stash of cash in a car which was used to facilitate his illicit business. It was on his EncroChat encrypted handset

This photograph was taken by police to show Logan’s cash stash in his car, which was being used for the facilitation of his illegal business. This picture was taken with his EncroChat encrypted smartphone

His role as a broker for drug gangs in Spain was revealed. He would then distribute drugs to street sellers through his network. To bolster his reputation, he placed orders for ammunition and a 9mm pistol and also had an automatic weapon price list.

Logan pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess prohibited weapons and being involved in the supply and distribution of Class A and B drugs at Manchester Crown Court. Jordan Gabriel, also 29, was sent to prison for similar charges.

After the men’s network was hacked in 2019, the investigation started shortly after lockdown in March 2013.

According to the court, they also purchased ammunition and a 9mm pistol for ‘bolstering their credibility’. 

Logan had previously arranged for 3.18kg cocaine and 2kg heroin to be brought into the UK. He also had 5,000 Ecstasy pills and 6kg cannabis. 

They believed their communications network was secure and used encrypted encro phones.  

Police discovered this cocaine during raids on properties associated with the drugs gang. Police recovered this photograph from Logan's encrypted handset

This cocaine was discovered by police during raids of properties belonging to the drug gang. The photograph was recovered from Logan’s encrypted cellphone by police

Police recovered his image of a bullet on Logan's phone during a raid on his home

During a raid at Logan’s home, police recovered Logan’s image of a gun on Logan.

Logan also also had a price list for an AK47 and Uzi sub machine gun and there was contact with a Encrochat about obtaining a Glock pistol and 13 bullets for £9,000 and test firing a Smith and Wesson revolver.

The conversation continued about “sprayers” and the two men said that they could kill a family in seconds and control the stakes of managing a drug-line on estates. 

After analyzing the messages, police executed five warrants in Warrington and Manchester. Logan and Gabriel were arrested and jewellery worth over £20,000 was seized.

In 2009 Logan was locked up for five years for a gems robbery and in 2015 was given a further six years and nine months for conspiracy to burgle after leading a gang which targeted shops and garages across Cumbria, County Durham and North Wales during a £100,000 theft spree.

Judge Ian Dove stated to the men, “Controlled drugs can be a deadly disease in this society.” These drugs destroy lives and make it difficult for people to stop using them. These criminals recruit youth and impact the community with their anti-social and crime behavior. These truths are everywhere around us and we all carry them with us every day. People like you are the cancer that drives our society’s heart. 

Andrew Moore, Detective Constable of Greater Manchester Police stated that Logan and Gabriel believed they were above law. They could prevent police from finding their illegal activities using encrypted communications.

“Since the Encrochat system’s introduction, police have been in a position to dismantle many Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) and prevent criminal activities from harming our communities.

“This sentencing was a positive step in preventing organized crime. I hope that it will reassure our communities that we are dedicated to using innovative methods to combat this crime as well as the advancements in criminal technology.

EncroChat: What did it mean? 

EncroChat was one of the largest providers of encrypted communications and offered a secure mobile phone instant messaging service, but an international law enforcement team cracked the company’s encryption.

There were 60,000 users worldwide and around 10,000 users in the UK – the sole use was for coordinating and planning the distribution of illicit commodities, money laundering and plotting to kill rival criminals.

EncroChat is an encrypted communication platform that allows criminals to communicate by means of encryption. Since 2016, the National Crime Agency collaborated with international law enforcement agencies.

The collaboration saw partners in France, the Netherlands and other countries infiltrating this platform. Europol shared the data.

Unbeknown to users the NCA and the police have been monitoring their every move since then under Operation Venetic – the UK law enforcement response.

European law enforcement authorities have been simultaneously targeting organised criminal groups.

EncroChat has been closed.

EncroChat was used in Britain by organized crime groups. The technology allowed them to communicate openly, believing it made them more secure. EncroChat’s criminal network was based outside of the UK.

EncroChat discovered that the platform was compromised and sent out a message asking its users to toss their phones.

The phones – which have pre-loaded apps for instant messaging, the ability to make VOIP calls and a kill code which wipes them remotely – have no other conventional smart phone functionality and cost around £1,500 for a six-month contract.

SOURCE: National Crime Agency