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silly billys Six sentenced after 'Billy Whizz' amphetamine EncroChat gang busted

The police investigation is the latest which has seen arrests after the EncroChat breach

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The packs of amphetamines had stickers on them featuring The Beano character Billy Whizz

The packs of amphetamines had stickers on them featuring The Beano character Billy Whizz

The packs of amphetamines had stickers on them featuring The Beano character Billy Whizz

Police in the north west of England have busted a drugs ring who sold £500,000 of ‘Billy Whizz’ amphetamine.

The probe, which targeted the gang based in St Helens, is the latest series of arrests linked to the now infamous EncroChat service which was breached by authorities across Europe.

Underworld criminals used the supposedly secure mobile phone technology to deal large quantities of drugs, but after EncroChat was infiltrated, many criminals across the UK and Ireland have been brought before the courts with the police using evidence gleaned from the service to stand up prosecutions.

North West Regional Crime Unit (NWRCU) officers in England began a surveillance operation on the Billy Whizz gang early last year, and said their investigation revealed a “large-scale drug dealing business with connections around the UK”.

The police said the gang bought and sold around £490,000 worth of amphetamine between February 2020 and March 2021.

During the investigation, police found the gang had marked bags of amphetamine with stickers featuring a famous character from The Beano comic, Billy Whizz.

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David Hunter was sentenced to nine years and seven months

David Hunter was sentenced to nine years and seven months

David Hunter was sentenced to nine years and seven months

‘Whizz’ is one of the slang terms commonly used when referring to amphetamine.

As part of their investigation, cops arrested Ricardo Hughes, who went by the name of ‘NovaCoast’ on EncroChat and Chiristopher Dooley, who used the tag ‘OctoOx’ as well as another man, David Hunter.

The three were sentenced on Friday in Liverpool Crown Court along with three other men for their roles in the drugs operation.

All six had previously submitted guilty pleas.

Hunter (58), who was described as one of the leaders of the gang, was sentenced to nine years and seven months for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs.

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Dooley (35), who was described as a lieutenant in the gang, was sentenced to nine years for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs.

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Christopher Dooley was sentenced to nine years for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs

Christopher Dooley was sentenced to nine years for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs

Christopher Dooley was sentenced to nine years for conspiring to supply class A and class B drugs

Hughes (53) who organised drugs hand-overs for the gang was handed down a ten-and-a-half year sentence for conspiring to supply class A and B drugs.

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Ricardo Hughes organised drugs hand-overs for the gang

Ricardo Hughes organised drugs hand-overs for the gang

Ricardo Hughes organised drugs hand-overs for the gang

Of the other members of the gang, Stephen Piert (27) was given two years and seven months for moving amphetamines, Paul Lever (33), who looked after the gang’s safehouse, was handed a 12 months sentence suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work and Neal Rodgers (36) was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years as well as 150 hours unpaid work for being concerned in the supply of class B drugs.

Detective Inspector Mark Whittaker of NWROCU said: "We have seen six more criminals sentenced for a significant number of years as part of the national Operation Venetic, which saw law officials in Europe crack the EncroChat service used by criminals involved in serious and organised crime to carry out their business.

"The guilty pleas put forward by these criminals were as a result of the overwhelming evidence put before the court.

"Surveillance evidence in conjunction with EncroChat data allowed us to identify and prove the criminal activities of each of the defendants.

"Here at the NWROCU we're committed to targeting the supply of drugs and will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of those people who think they are above the law.

"This crime group are now behind bars and thankfully are now unable to bring drugs and misery to families and communities across the North West and beyond."

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