A Manchester man has been jailed for 12 years after using the encrypted phone network EncroChat to import cocaine worth £1.6m.

Custody image

Ibraheem Abdullah, 38, was arrested by National Crime Agency officers on 17 April 2020 when the 20 kilos of high purity cocaine – hidden in boxes of mobile phone accessories – was seized at a joiners yard in the Middleton area.

Abdullah (also known as Dwaine George) attempted to escape when he spotted NCA and Greater Manchester Police officers, who had just entered the yard in Wade Street.

He tried to destroy two mobile phones during the subsequent chase on foot – by throwing one against a wall and dropping another into the nearby Wince Brook – but was arrested minutes later.

Electronic scales and a quantity of small plastic bags were recovered during a subsequent search of his home address in Mariman Drive, Crumpsall, Manchester.

The NCA investigation found that the device Abdullah threw against the wall was crucial, as it was the EncroChat phone he used to arrange the shipment under his Encro handle ‘Tenderpasta’

The drugs had been posted from the Netherlands and tests showed that they had a purity of between 70 and 73 per cent. They would have had an estimated street value of £1.6 million once cut.

On 7 April 2020, ‘Tenderpasta’ exchanged messages with the EncroChat handle ‘Maxbro’, and identified the joiner’s yard as the best drop off location. He also sent a photo of the location.

Analysis of billing for numbers used by Abdullah show that around the time of these messages, his phones were using cell masts near the joiners yard.

Other Encrochat messages with a contact using the handle ‘Flyinghourse’ showed that Abdullah was trying to arrange an onward buyer for the cocaine, with the two individuals agreeing a sale price of £37,500 per kilo.

He was sentenced to 12 years at Manchester City Crown Court today (14 March) after pleading guilty to conspiracy to import class A drugs during a hearing at the same court on 9 November.

NCA Operations Manager Helen Murphy said: “Ibraheem Abdullah attempted to use technology to evade detection, but is now facing a lengthy prison term.

“This investigation shows that the NCA will do all within its powers to prevent criminals using EncoChat to operate with freedom. In Abdullah’s case he was attempting to profit from cocaine which fuels violence, misery and destroys the fabric of society.

“Disrupting organised criminals and their wider networks is a crucial part of preventing class A drugs from reaching streets in the UK.”