Taken down | 

Man involved in cocaine deals worth over €4.7 million in just three months is jailed

Fatjon Kurti used EncroChat to buy and supply at least 58kg of cocaine between March 26 and June 2, 2020

Fatjon Kurti

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A drug dealer who was involved in cocaine deals worth more than £4m (€4.7 million) in just three months has been jailed for 12 years.

Fatjon Kurti (34) used the encrypted communications platform EncroChat to buy and supply at least 58kg of cocaine between March 26 and June 2, 2020.

Kurti, of Newport Court near Leicester Square in central London, who orchestrated the deals on EncroChat using the handle ‘Botarrota’, was arrested on November 25 last year.

He had set up a front company called E&T Catering which was registered to his home in a bid to avoid detection, although it did not exist as a functioning catering business.

EncroChat was taken down in 2020 by an international law enforcement partnership.

The National Crime Agency began investigating Kurti who is an Albanian national as part of Operation Venetic, the UK’s response to the takedown.

Though no real world identities are present on EncroChat, NCA officers proved Kurti was Botarrota as location data for the Encro phone showed it operating mainly around London.

The phone was also detected in Weymouth and Bournemouth on May 20, 2020 and June 2, 2020 respectively.

Data from the ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) system identified two vehicles matching the movements of the phone.

Checks showed Kurti had hired both cars and mobile cell site data also showed that Kurti’s other mobile phone was travelling with the Encro phone in the two vehicles.

The handle was also matched to Kurti through another means.

Botarrota sent a message to another user saying he had ordered a PlayStation - “it comes on Thursday" – and data showed Kurti began subscribing to Sony services at this time.

NCA officers waded through more than 16,000 messages on Kurti’s Encro phone to gather evidence.

That evidence showed he had a number of trusted associates - who were responsible for the holding and distribution of cocaine and the collection of cash payments - all of which he coordinated.

In EncroChat exchanges Kurti states his “business is cocaine” and the Venetic data showed him receiving many images of cocaine and bank notes which he forwarded to numerous contacts to discuss drugs deals.

On 3 May 2020 he discussed with someone doing a deal for 11 one kilogram blocks of cocaine for £272,500.

He later admitted trafficking multiple kilos of cocaine, supplying cocaine and money laundering and was jailed on Tuesday at Southwark Crown Court for 12 years.

NCA Branch Commander Matt McMillan said: “Through some excellent and tenacious investigative work the team built a rock solid case and Kurti’s only option was to admit his guilt.

“The Class A drugs trade is inextricably linked to gang violence and real suffering in communities across the UK.

“The NCA works with partners at home and abroad to fight drug trafficking and we’ll continue to do everything we can to stop men like Fatjon Kurti.”

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