A Kirkby man has become the first in Merseyside to be jailed in connection with a huge international operation targeting criminals who used a mobile encryption service to try to evade detection

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James Duckworth, 42 was jailed today for 16-and-a-half years for his part in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin around the UK.
He is the first person in Merseyside to be sentenced after the operation involving European law enforcement agencies working with the NCA and supported across the UK by police forces and Regional Organised Crime Units.
The operation came about after law enforcement officials in Europe managed to crack the ‘encrochat’ service being used by criminals involved in serious and organised crime to carry out their business.
After an extensive investigation, Duckworth, of Langdale Close, Kirkby was found to be using the encro handle ‘atomicmantis’ and detectives found images on his phone of drugs and large quantities of cash, including a batch of notes totalling £385,000.
Evidence was discovered within the device of a running drug ledger with evidence of payments of almost £5 million pounds and a plan to import drugs from Costa Rica.
He was arrested at home on 3 November 2020 and during a search, expensive watches, an anti-bugging device and a cash counting machine were recovered.
Duckworth was subsequently charged and convicted of conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine within the UK and an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
He was sentenced today to 16 and a half years in jail after pleading guilty.
Detective Inspector Lee Wilkinson said: “We welcome today’s sentencing which shows how seriously police and the courts take those who seek to profit from the misery of others by dealing drugs.”