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Kingpin criminals at the heart of a landmark law enforcement breakthrough into encrypted communications are in fear of the National Crime Agency and police, according to their messages.

NCA police logosThe NCA is not “f***ing about” one offender said, and UK police “have too much success” said another.

The messages were unearthed after the NCA began processing millions of criminal exchanges from the EncroChat system – which an international law enforcement team cracked in April.

More than 746 arrests have been made because of the data with seizures of more than £54m in criminal cash, two tonnes of drugs, 77 firearms and 200 threats to life averted.

But the messages have also provided an insight into UK law enforcement’s impact in the eyes of offenders.

Today we are releasing a series of unedited messages discovered under Operation Venetic, the NCA-led operation into EncroChat data which involved every Regional Organised Crime Unit and police force across the UK.

In one, an offender says: “Yeh its NCA wanna worry about.”

Another said: “If ye got that NCA on ye m8/ ye got problems for sure and heavy bird m8.”

One criminal wrote: “Bro NCA come after you there is no work these bastards had intel on everything.”
And another put it simply: “The police are winning this year.”

There were thought to be 10,000 EncroChat users in the UK, with an estimated 60,000 worldwide.

Other messages included:

“That’s naughty when the big boys like NCA and flying squad come its not good they wont stop”

“Yeah if NCA are on him. Defiantly not the firm that go away. That like a pack of hyenigas”

“….When NCA come…….., they gona come in hard and fast”

“Bro trust me NCA is like M15 for our business”

“They will keep digging until they get a result… You know what the NCA are like”

“NCA as u know well are sophisticated and relentless”

“I’m moving my family from UK this year because NCA is getting to smart”

“NCA are the worst bro”

“NCA taken too many people out”

“These NCA are no joke”

“Be scared of NCA”

“Thing is we need to know becoz if NCA then we have a big problem”

“So many ppl been took down here, NCA been clearing up”

“NCA scary bastards”

“Yeah have you seen NCA site,,,there getting everyone”

“This year the police are winning.”

“The police are having a field day”

“Mate police are winning war at min like”

“The police are winning this year”

“Yes I thought this for last 6 months police having to much success”

“Police have too much success”

“Thanks bro the police scoring goals motherf******”

“The police are on one”

The handsets could only be used to communicate with other EncroChat devices and had no other smartphone functionality other than one app – a currency converter to help calculate profit on deals.

The EncroChat servers – which were infiltrated by French and Dutch partners - were based in France. The data harvested was shared via Europol.

NCA Deputy Director Investigations Matt Horne, who was also Gold Commander for Operation Venetic, said: “Operation Venetic has targeted middle-ranking and top tier criminals, including offenders who’ve previously been untouchable.

“The messages are a reflection of UK law enforcement’s standing in their eyes – and they were before they realised their communication system had been infiltrated.

“Who knows what they think now?

“But they should know this is the just the start of Operation Venetic and the last thing we’ll be is complacent.

“We are not going to take our foot off the gas.

“NCA officers and our policing partners are fired up about this fight and about protecting the UK.

“Though the UK comments are rightly about the NCA’s and police’s tenacity, they’re also testament to how well international law enforcement works together and pulls in the same direction.”

5 July 2020