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High CostCo Man sentenced to over 17 years for EncroChat drugs racket identified by Costco membership

The court heard how Devine's messages had referred to smuggling drugs from Santos in Brazil in a cargo of frozen fish using smuggling routes through Egypt and Central America.

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Michael Devine

Michael Devine

Michael Devine

A man who used the encrypted messaging service EncroChat to sell drugs has been sentenced to 17 years for drugs offences.

Michael Devine (45) used the codenames on EncroChat ‘lawfularbur’ and ‘mixedtree’, linking him to a Costco account (furniture and hardware store).

It's understood police identified Devine, also known as 'Pasta', from his Costco membership.

Through the EncroChat hack, which has exposed criminals around the world, authorities have been able to arrest crime lords in Europe and further afield.

The court heard how Devine's messages had referred to smuggling drugs from Santos in Brazil in a cargo of frozen fish using smuggling routes through Egypt and Central America.

Prosecuting Devine, Charles Lander said: "The defendant has an insightful conversation with the handle 'destructivetailor' about the drugs supply market and the scarcity of the product.

"The defendant states that he uses a courier who has access to a 'Domino's' van that goes 'all round the UK'.

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Cocaine allegedly linked to Devine

Cocaine allegedly linked to Devine

Cocaine allegedly linked to Devine

He added: “Using transport that had key worker status and hence less likely to attract the attention of the police during the national lockdown.”

The court heard how in a separate conversation between Devine and a person calling themselves ‘digitalbread’, they planned to buy heroin as well as allegedly trying to buy an AA recovery truck so they could import a drugs press.

In prosecuting, Mr Lander said Devine "was involved in conspiracies to supply multi-kilogram amounts of heroin, ketamine and amphetamine".

Another user of EncroChat, known as ‘hastyshark’, was allegedly trying to sell 500kg of ketamine and suggested running a ‘kitty’ for the alleged drug dealers running into £150,000.

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Judge Denis Watson, passing sentence, said the EncroChat messages added context to Devine’s dealings and that he was satisfied that Devine had imported 8kg of cocaine and 16kgs of heroin as a “minimum”.

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