A fifth person has been arrested by the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland as part of a major investigation into the alleged importation of drugs, linked to the encrypted phone network Encrochat.

NCA and Police logos on jacketsMichael Anwyl, 33, of Irwin Avenue, Limvady, handed himself in to Coleraine Police Station yesterday.

He was arrested and questioned by NCA investigators, and later charged with conspiring to supply class A and B drugs, plus being concerned in the supply of class A, B and C drugs.

He appeared before Coleraine Magistrates this morning and was remanded in custody until Tuesday 1 December, when he will appear before a court in Antrim.
It follows the arrest of four other people last week in Lisburn, Antrim, Crumlin and Limavady.

Those arrests resulted in three people being charged and a fourth bailed.

The NCA investigation was launched after analysis of messages shared on Encrochat, the encrypted messaging platform that was brought down earlier this year as part of Operation Venetic.

NCA Belfast branch commander David Cunningham said:

“We suspect those Encrochat messages contained details of drug importations and cash movements linked to a Northern Ireland-based organised crime group.

“This led to us conducting a number of initial searches at properties back in June, and eventually to these arrests over the last few weeks.

“The NCA and our law enforcement partners are determined to take action against the organised criminals targeting communities in Northern Ireland, and these arrests demonstrate that in action. Our investigation continues.”

26 November 2020