A man who who was producing ketamine and cannabis at his Bristol home has been spared imprisonment and given a suspended sentence.
Jonathan Reader, 34, from Broadbury Road, also kept a drugs stash vehicle for two known dealers. He was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) in September 2020.
The NCA said: “A man who ran a drugs factory of cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and cannabis from his home and kept a drugs stash vehicle for two known dealers has been sentenced. Jonathan Reader, 34, from Broadbury Road in Bristol, was arrested by officers from the National Crime Agency in September 2020 after he was linked via the encrypted comms platform Encrochat to two men responsible for importing cocaine to the UK.”
Bertram Fallon and Arron Collins were jailed in February 2021 for six years and six months, and nine years and five months respectively, after a parcel from The Netherlands was intercepted. It was found to contain five kilos of cocaine hidden within protein powder.
Messages on Collins’ Encrochat device referred to a Citroen car he owned which had been converted into a “stash car” to hide and transport drugs. Collins said the car was registered in someone else’s name and kept away from his home to avoid detection.
NCA officers discovered that Reader was renting a house owned by Collins at Broadbury Road, Bristol, and a car of the same model was registered and insured to him. When they searched his address, they discovered a haul of drugs including high purity cocaine, which had been partially compressed ready for cutting, and with a street value of £7,200.
They also found MDMA in tablet and powder form, and one of the bedrooms had been converted into a farm for growing cannabis. The cannabis had an estimated street value of £5,400. Reader had used his phone to record videos of himself heating ketamine and received advice from another person on how to produce the drug. Further messages showed Reader was buying, selling and producing ketamine and cannabis.
He pleaded guilty to numerous drug offences at Bristol Crown Court when he appeared there in April. And on Friday he was sentenced at the same court to two years imprisonment – suspended for two years – and ordered to serve 240 hours unpaid work.
NCA Branch Commander Colin Williams said: “Jonathan Reader was an important player in this organised crime group who were selling cocaine around Bristol, being used as a driver of the stash car designed to avoid detection. Once we linked him to Fallon and Collins’ crimes, we also found Reader was also a known seller of a number of drugs and his phone showed a detailed journey of his criminality.
“These drugs have a serious impact on our communities and fuel violence and exploitation in the UK and we will work to stop offenders like Reader.”
EncroChat was the service provider established in 2016 that offered end-to-end encrypted communications. Because of this is became extremely popular with organised crime gangs to plan and carry out their activities. Police infiltrated the network in 2020 during a Europe-wide investigation, leading quickly to its demise later the same year. The service had around 60,000 subscribers at the time of closure. According to news reports from the BBC, at least 1,000 arrests were made in Europe as a result of police being able to intercept encrypted EncroChat messages.
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