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EncroChat Arrests – Our Criminal Defence Lawyers Can Help

EncroChat Arrests – Our Criminal Defence Lawyers Can Help

Nearly 750 people have been arrested in the UK after law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency infiltrated encrypted communications network, EncroChat.

Since March 2020, the authorities have been intercepting and decoding millions of messages sent by suspected organised crime gangs. EncroChat did not notice that it had been compromised until June after the authorities had already gathered enough evidence to arrest and charge hundreds of people. As well as the arrests, law enforcement identified up to 200 'threats to life' and seized £54 million in cash, two tonnes of drugs and dozens of guns.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has stated that "this is just the beginning". Their work could lead them to hundreds more individuals involved in alleged criminal activity over the weeks and months to come. Therefore, if you were an EncroChat user and are concerned about facing criminal allegations, or you are already facing prosecution, get in touch with a specialist criminal defence solicitor for advice as soon as possible.

What is EncroChat?

EncroChat was a 'criminal marketplace' with around 60,000 users across Europe (including 10,000 in the UK). Users could buy a modified Android phone from EncroChat called an 'EncroPhone' that could hide their identity. Messages sent and received via EncroChat's applications were encrypted so if the messages were intercepted, they would be impossible to read (or so users thought). Additional EncroPhone features included 'self-destructing messages' and 'panic wipe' where the user could delete all data from their mobile device by entering a four digit code.

Due to the secure and private nature of EncroChat's services, it is alleged that it has been used to facilitate serious organised criminal activity. EncroChat users have been accused of a wide range of criminal offences, including:

  • Drug dealing such as the importation, production and supply of drugs (heroin, cocaine, cannabis etc)
  • Drug debt enforcement
  • Planning and threatening violent crimes such as assault, murder and acid attacks
  • Money laundering and fraud
  • Importing weapons such as handguns, sub-machine guns and assault rifles

Do you need legal advice following the EncroChat arrests?

If you are concerned about being accused of a criminal offence or you or someone you know are facing arrest and criminal prosecution following the EncroChat hack, our team of dedicated legal specialists are here to help.

We are a leading criminal law team based in West Drayton, London and St Albans, Hertfordshire. Our criminal lawyers can provide clear, confidential advice about your legal rights as well as robust defence strategy if the authorities decide to investigate and prosecute you.

Contact us today in West Drayton on 01895 449288,  in St Albans on 01727 840900 or send us an email.

 If you or someone you know has been arrested and needs urgent advice, call us on our emergency number - 07592034170.

Using an encrypted service or device is not a criminal offence in itself. For example, WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, uses end-to-end encryption. Therefore, being investigated by the authorities does not mean you will be prosecuted or found guilty of an offence. With the right legal advice, many people are able to avoid criminal charges or are successfully acquitted at court. We can represent you:

At the police station - our team includes qualified police station representatives who can assist if you have been arrested or invited for an interview under caution. We recommend that you do not answer the police's questions until we are by your side as anything you say could be used as evidence against you.

During criminal investigations - being the subject of an investigation can be incredibly stressful. We are here to support you, provide advice on your rights, and liaise with the authorities on your behalf. 

At court - our team includes lawyers who are qualified to represent you at all court levels, including the Crown Court and appeal courts.

Our team are Criminal Litigation accredited by the Law Society for our skills. We are also highly ranked as one of the leading crime teams in the South East by independent client guide, the Legal 500.

We can assist with all criminal offences that have or may come out of the EncroChat bust. Our expertise includes:

Advice about encryption and use of encrypted devices

We can explain law enforcement's abilities and powers to obtain encrypted information, including their powers under RIPA - the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

RIPA allows officers to demand disclosure of encrypted information in certain circumstances and it can be a criminal offence to refuse to comply. These powers have limits and we can help you argue against a RIPA notice and provide advice about defending any criminal proceedings that arise out of a 'failure to comply'.

The police's powers to seize and search your devices

When investigating criminal offences, particularly with offences involving drugs, fraud, money laundering and 'county lines' offences, authorities will usually try to search the suspects' phone and other electronic devices and even access their social media accounts to gather evidence.

We can advise you on authorities' powers to seize your devices and your legal rights, including whether you can refuse to hand over your devices and/or passwords or PINs.

Drugs offences

We can assist with a full range of drug crimes, from personal possession cases and small scale drug dealing charges to large scale conspiracies to import, produce and supply illegal drugs. Some types of offences we can help with include:

  • Possession of drugs
  • Possession with intent to supply drugs
  • Conspiracy to supply drugs
  • Production of controlled drugs
  • Importation of controlled drugs
  • Permitting premises to be used for drugs

Serious fraud

We can assist with allegations of serious fraud, money laundering and related offences, often where evidence has been gathered using surveillance techniques and interception of your personal data. Our expertise includes:

  • Money laundering
  • Bribery
  • Serious and high value fraud
  • Blackmail
  • National Crime Agency investigations

Gun crimes

Our gun crime expertise includes allegations of:

  • Importation of illegal firearms
  • Possession of firearms, shotguns, ammunition, or prohibited weapons
  • Using firearms or imitation firearms to commit offences to cause fear of violence
  • Armed robbery
  • Violent crimes against the person
  • Criminal damage involving firearms
  • Threats or conspiracies to commit crimes using firearms

Other criminal expertise

We can help with all other offences that may come out of the EncroChat bust, including:

  • Conspiracy offences, such as:
    • Conspiracy to murder
    • Conspiracy to supply drugs
    • Conspiracy to commit theft or armed robbery
  • 'Crimes against the person' and conspiracies/threats to commit violent crimes, such as:
    • Murder and attempted murder
    • GBH and ABH
    • Assault and battery
    • Sexual offences and exploitation
  • Modern Slavery Act offences
  • Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, including confiscation proceedings

What to do if you are arrested after the EncroChat bust

Obtaining legal advice from a criminal defence specialist is the best way to protect yourself. Our team includes lawyers who are specifically qualified to represent individuals at the police station. We will make sure your legal rights are protected and advise you about the best way to proceed. We can also make representations to the authorities against you being charged or in favour of you being released on bail (as appropriate).

You are entitled to free legal advice while at the police station and are well within your rights not to answer any questions about criminal allegations until we are there to support and advise you. Anything you say to the authorities at this stage could be used as evidence against you so ask to call Wells Burcombe before you go into any interviews.

Contact our criminal defence solicitors for expert advice about EncroChat

If you are worried about being caught up in the EncroChat arrests or you are already facing arrest, investigation and prosecution, get in touch with our expert criminal defence lawyers for advice and legal representation.

Contact us today in West Drayton on 01895 449288,  in St Albans on 01727 840900 or send us an email.

If you or someone you know has been arrested and needs urgent advice, call us on our emergency number - 07592034170.

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