Big-time drug dealer’s world crashes after spending £34 at butchers | UK | News

A notorious drug kingpin has been jailed after a routine police check at a local butcher’s shop revealed his illicit behaviour. Dean Cooper, aged 51, was the mastermind behind a colossal drug empire.

He peddled £3.68 million worth of cocaine, £900,000 in heroin, and vast quantities of other narcotics including ketamine, amphetamine, and a staggering 50kg of cannabis resin.

His criminal enterprise came crashing down due to Operation Venetic, an extensive probe into the clandestine communications of crooks using EncroChat. The service, which was perfectly legal, provided a secure messaging platform for some 50,000 users globally, with 9,000 based in the UK, all confident that their communications were safe from prying eyes of the law.

However, the game changed when law enforcement cracked EncroChat’s server in Roubaix, northern France, in April 2020. They sent out deceptive updates to devices worldwide, which slyly harvested the very data the criminals had hoped to keep hidden.

Cooper, who unleashed a torrent of drugs onto the streets of Manchester, is just the latest to face justice. His alias on Encrochat was Berrystar.

Through messages exchanged with his underworld contacts about drug transactions, NCA officers employed various techniques to confirm that Cooper was indeed Berrystar. 

A breakthrough came when Cooper texted an associate: “You’ve got to get to this butchers on Tuesday best meat ever had mate.”, reports the Manchester Evening News.

After sharing the name of the butcher, detectives followed up and discovered Cooper had made a purchase of £34 there, sealing his fate. Berrystar had also casually mentioned to an associate about splashing out £240 on two pairs of trainers.

It was found that Cooper’s banking records showed the same expense at a shoe store discussed in their chats, and officers even found among his possessions the Nike Air Max 270 React trainers he’d bragged about buying in another conversation.

In one audacious move, Berrystar sent photographs via EncroChat taken inside a house these were identical to the interior of Cooper’s home.

Cooper, a resident of Atwood Grove, Roby, Liverpool, pleaded guilty when faced with charges of conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, cannabis resin, and ketamine to buyers in Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.

This was between March 30, 2020 and April 24, 2020, when he appeared at Liverpool Crown Court in February this year. He also confessed to possession of cocaine.

Evidence from Berrystars EncroChat discussions and notes disclosed that Cooper had dealings involving payments and cash transactions amounting to roughly £3.73million. Consequently, he was sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

After Cooper’s sentencing, NCA operations manager Mark Morrison divulged: “A lot of very careful work was initially done in this case to resolve the identity behind the Berrystar handle.”

Morrison furthered: “Cooper’s conversations about his butcher and his trainers helped ensure the case was rock solid and he had no choice but to admit his guilt. Tackling the Class A drugs threat is a key priority for the NCA in its mission to protect the UK public.”

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