Man caught supplying drugs worth £14m after Encrochat breakthrough

Ipswich crown court with road sign

Lee Dunn pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

A Felixstowe man has admitted conspiring to supply drugs with a street value of more than £14million after police intercepted messages on the encrypted platform Encrochat.

Lee Dunn, 42, was arrested after messages were uncovered showing him arranging multiple deals of cannabis and cocaine over six weeks from March to June 2020.

In total, it is estimated that Dunn had a role in the supply of approximately 85 kilograms of cocaine, with a potential street value of £6.8m, and almost 800kg of cannabis with a potential street value of almost £8m.

The investigation, by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), was part of Operation Venetic, which saw data uncovered following the seizure of servers linked to the Encrochat platform.

Unlocking the encrypted tool – used exclusively by criminals to communicate with each other – allowed investigators to view messages and other media sent between users as they discussed large-scale criminality such as the movement of drugs and weapons.

It was one of the biggest crime-fighting breakthroughs of recent years, and has laid bare the operations of gangs across the country. 

Using this data, detectives from ERSOU were able to establish that Dunn was behind one of the handles on the system, uncovering conversations between him and various other users relating to the distribution of cocaine and cannabis.

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Dunn, of Alexandra Road, Felixstowe, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday for a plea and trial preparation hearing where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

He will be sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court on May 10. 

Detective Inspector Ian Mawdesley said Dunn thought he could operate "above the law". 

“There is no doubt that Dunn was responsible for large scale drug dealing throughout the eastern region, organising the distribution of significant quantities of cocaine and cannabis, something which will have had a significant impact on our communities," he said. 

“He thought he could operate above the law but thanks to the partnership working of enforcement activities involved in Operation Venetic, he was apprehended and will now be made to pay the price for his actions.”