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Vroom boom PSNI and NCA seize 14 vehicles including high-end sports cars in Newry raid and charge 33-year-old

Arrest was part of EncroChat investigation

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The high performance vehicles were seized in a joint operation between the PSNI and NCA

The high performance vehicles were seized in a joint operation between the PSNI and NCA

The high performance vehicles were seized in a joint operation between the PSNI and NCA

Detectives from the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch and the National Crime Agency (NCA) have seized 13 vehicles in Newry as part of Operation Venetic.

The cars, many of them high-end sports cars, have been valued at between £500,000 and £750,000.

The vehicles were seized after three properties were searched in the Newry area.

Today, a 33-year-old man who was arrested during the investigation, father-of-two William John Hewitt, appeared in Armagh Magistrate's Court, sitting in Newry.

Hewitt, from Jonesborough, has been charged with three drug offences, including conspiring to import cannabis, being concerned with offers to supply cocaine and cannabis and one further count alleging that he entered an agreement to acquire criminal property.

All of the offences are alleged to have been committed between March 25 and June 15 last year.

The court heard how police found a notebook with alleged drug references "totaling around two million pounds and Euro" owed to Hewitt.

During a bail application, prosecutors said the offences arose after investigators obtained data which had been previously encrypted.

They allege that Hewitt "is involved in drug dealing at a very high end involving multiple consignments of drugs and he is part of a network involved in the supply of drugs".

A prosecutor also said that Hewitt used the codename 'Eagletoxic' on the encrypted messaging service.

Speaking of the notebook which was recovered the court heard: "This notebook contains these slang terms and of significance for this defendant, he had very large sums of money… Both sterling and euro, hundreds of thousands of pounds owed to this defendant."

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer refused to grant bail to the defendant.

Remanding Hewitt into custody the judge said he felt there was a risk of him absconding given concerns "that he may frustrate the police investigation by dealing with assets that are not yet known".

Operation Venetic was launched after international law enforcement agencies took down EncroChat, one of the largest providers of encrypted communications networks used by criminals the world over.

Tens of millions of pounds have been recovered in criminal cash assets since EncroChat was breached by authorities and hundreds of crime gangs have fallen across Europe as a result.

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The total value of the vehicles is thought to be between £500,000 and £750,000

The total value of the vehicles is thought to be between £500,000 and £750,000

The total value of the vehicles is thought to be between £500,000 and £750,000


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A 33-year-old man was arrested during the operation

A 33-year-old man was arrested during the operation

A 33-year-old man was arrested during the operation

Speaking of the vehicle seizures and the arrest, Detective Inspector Craig McCamley of the PSNI said: "This is an example of our ongoing commitment to bring those involved in criminal activity to justice.

"Working alongside our partner agencies, we will continue to disrupt the movements and activities of organised crime gangs. We recognise the harm caused in our communities as a result of organised crime and we will continue to keep people safe from this activity.

"Anyone with information about criminality should contact police on 101 or anonymously through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111, which gives people the power to speak up and stop crime and help us keep your community safe."

The case involving Hewitt has been adjourned until March 24.

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