Major player in £2m conspiracy to supply drugs jailed for 12 years

Lee Dunn, from Felixstowe, has been jailed for 12 years and eight months

Lee Dunn, 42, was arrested after messages were uncovered showing him arranging multiple deals of cannabis and cocaine and jailed at Ipswich Crown Court for more than 12 years. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary/Archant

A Felixstowe man who was unveiled as a major player in a £2 million conspiracy to supply drugs after police intercepted messages on the encrypted platform Encrochat has been jailed for 12 years and eight months.

Lee Dunn, 42, was arrested after messages were uncovered showing him arranging multiple deals of cannabis and cocaine over two and a half months from March to June 2020, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Dunn had a role in the supply of 23 kgs of cocaine and around 800kgs of cannabis.

Lee Dunn, from Felixstowe, was jailed for 12 years and eight months at Ipswich Crown Court. 

Lee Dunn, from Felixstowe, was jailed for 12 years and eight months at Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

Dunn, of Alexandra Road, Felixstowe, admitted conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis.

Sentencing him on Thursday ( July 7) Judge Emma Peters said he’d been high up in an organised crime group and had become involved in the conspiracy to supply drugs between March and June 2020 just weeks after being released on licence from a nine year prison sentence for conspiracy to supply cocaine.

She said that despite his claim that he’d only been involved with less than 10kgs of cocaine she was satisfied he’d been involved with 23kgs of cocaine.

Charges Royle for Dunn said at as well as disputing the amount of cocaine he’d been involved with, Dunn also disputed the amount of cannabis involved and claimed it was less than half the amount claimed by the prosecution.

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He told the court that Dunn had recently become a grandfather and realised he couldn’t carry on in the same way as he had in the past.

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.

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.”