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Moaning 'Mooresy'  Dark web drug dealer says 'it's unfair' as he is locked up for trafficking drugs worth millions

Andrew Moores lived in a luxury Manchester city centre apartment and boasted personalised bath robes, flannels and slippers embroidered with 'Mooresy'

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Andrew Moores

Andrew Moores

Andrew Moores

A father-of-two who used a variety of dark web “shops” to distribute massive quantities of cocaine across England the rest of Europe has been locked up for 16 years and six months. 

Andrew Moores (37) from Denton, lived in a luxury Manchester city centre apartment and boasted personalised bath robes, flannels and slippers embroidered with 'Mooresy' after he made a fortune from selling the drugs through shops called 'Vanilla Surf', 'Staxx' and 'GovUK'.

He played a leading role in a gang that trafficked drugs worth millions including cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamine and cannabis via the internet using encrypted EncroChat mobile phones, dubbed ‘WhatsApp for criminals'.

The Tameside and Stockport based outfit, which included Moores' book-keeper Paul Gregory (39) and distributor Austin 'Ozzy' Beckett (31) operated “with virtual anonymity”, a court heard, until law enforcement hacked the EncroChat server in France, which led to the downfall of the gang.

Moores, a dad with two young children, described his sentence as “unfair” as he was locked up alongside Gregory who was handed a sentence of 14 years and four months while Beckett was given 11 years and three months.

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Part of the drugs haul

Part of the drugs haul

Part of the drugs haul

Another gang member said to be higher up the chain than Moores - named in court as Casey Miller - is wanted by police who believe he has fled the country.

According to a police drugs expert, the 20 kilos of cocaine that the gang had dealt could have been worth up to £2m on the streets.

Ketamine estimated to be worth £2m and amphetamine valued at about £300,000 were also said to be linked to the gang.

A previous attempt to arrest Moores at his luxury tenth floor apartment in the West Tower block on Deansgate failed as he wasn’t there at the time but detectives managed to catch up with him when he checked in for a flight bound for Dubai from Manchester in January last year.

Among the items seized from him were personalised bath robes, flannels and slippers embroidered with 'Mooresy'.

He claimed was going to Dubai as there was no coronavirus lockdown in force there and insisted he had “every intention” of coming back to the UK, as he had bought a return ticket.

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But the police investigation established that 'Mooresy', who used the EncroChat handle 'Toxic Jaguar', oversaw a huge continent-wide drugs operation, running the dark web drugs supply 'shops' called 'Vanilla Surf', 'Staxx' and 'GovUk'.

"The span of this conspiracy was the length and breadth of England and Wales, and the length and breadth of the European continent," prosecutor William Beardmore told Minshull Street Crown Court.

One cryptocurrency wallet alone which police recovered had made transactions worth almost £3m over a 22-month period.

Gregory, who went under the name 'Matte Soda' on EncroChat, received a “substantial wage” and was also given bonuses was arrested for an unrelated matter while driving a Land Rover worth about £100,000.

He told police he was a “stockbroker working for Bitcoin”, adding, “I can win a lot of money and lose a lot of money as well".

Police who had arrived at house in Hazel Grove to arrest someone unconnected with the gang, made another key breakthrough by chance, when Beckett who ran the gang's distribution centre, panicked as he thought they were coming for him.

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Austin Beckett

Austin Beckett

Austin Beckett

Beckett, who was known as 'Real Cake' on the encrypted network, was moving a suitcase from his flat to a neighbour's, who the police were actually looking for.

When it was opened the suitcase was found to contain a “large quantity” of drugs including high purity cocaine, as well as scales and other drugs paraphernalia.

Minshull Street Crown Court was told that undercover officers working to expose dealers on the dark web made test purchases of drugs.

One package of ecstasy tablets had Gregory's DNA on it.

Adam Watkins who was defending Moores, said he had plans to “go straight” and had wanted to pursue a career in software development.

Beckett’s barrister Chudi Grant said he was a “paid employee" in the gang and became involved after he lost his job as an electrician.

Syam Soni argued that Gregory was not involved in “every facet” of the operation.

As the drug-dealing trio, who were appearing at Minshull Street Crown Court from prison via videolink, were handed down their sentences by His Honour Judge John Potter, friends and family wept in the public galley.

Moores was told by the judge to “be quiet” or his microphone would be turned off when he muttered “it seems unfair”.

"In my judgement, each defendant understood the conspiracies they were part of which had little complexity to them other the way in which each conspiracy operated to supply large amounts of class A and B drugs to drug users and dealers throughout England, Wales and Europe,” Judge Potter said.

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Paul Gregory

Paul Gregory

Paul Gregory

He added: "For a significant period of two years between January 2019 and January 2021 an organised crime group headed by you, Andrew Moores, and another man, Casey Miller, who remains at large, was responsible for supplying vast quantities of both class A and B drugs throughout England, Wales and across Europe.

“The drugs were acquired by the organised crime group using encrypted mobile phones from bulk suppliers and then sold on by this group via three 'shops' established on the dark web."

He noted at the height of the operation drugs worth £45,000 were being trafficked every day.

"On any view this is drug dealing on an industrial and commercial scale," said Judge Potter.

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Chris McClellan said: "This was a complex investigation which involved several law enforcement agencies working together to bring down a crime group which was making substantial amounts of money supplying drugs internationally online.

"Their guilty plea is a result of the overwhelming evidence, which was put in front of them, leaving them no option but to plead guilty.

“We’re committed to continuing to work with our partners to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminals causing misery and harm to our communities with their illegal drugs trade."

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