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12th Jul 2023

Police snare drug dealers after they post picture of ham sandwich and can of Stella

Jack Peat

It’s not just Andrew Tate getting nabbed after posting food pics

A pair of dozy drug dealers were snared by police after sharing photos of a ham sandwich and a can of lager on an underworld chat network.

Richard Wylie, 36, and Richard Whiteside, 55, were nabbed when officers examined photos of the meagre lunch that had passed between the pair over EncroChat.

The servers for the secure instant messaging service – used exclusively by criminals – were taken down three years ago after an international team cracked its encryption.

But British investigators continued to examine those speaking on it as part of ‘operation Venetic’, which involved officers from across the country.


Lancashire Police said their serious and organised crime team had found that Wylie and Whiteside used the Encrochat handles ‘Somesnail’ and ‘Peppershirt’.

It is believed the cops were able to link the image with the pair after later raiding Whiteside’s address in Blackpool, where they also found wads of cash.

Wylie, from Thornton Cleveleys, was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to class A drug supply offences.

Whiteside, from Blackpool, received four years after admitting Conspiracy to transfer and conceal criminal property and possessing criminal property.

Police said they still want to speak to Daniel Hindley, 40, and Jamie Finney, 37, as part of the same investigation who are currently believed to be abroad.


Detective Chief Inspector James Edmonds said the operation showed that anyone trying to sell drugs could be tracked down by his investigators.

He said: “Like many other users of EncroChat, the criminals operating in Lancashire will have mistakenly thought that they could traffic drugs with impunity, under the radar of the police – our successes as part of Op Venetic show how wrong they are.

“We continue to work both with the NCA and other forces across the region and the UK to take the fight to criminals and ensure there are no safe spaces in Lancashire for serious and organised criminals, including those who seek to profit from a class A drugs trade which fuels violence and exploitation in our communities.”

“This sort of activity is just one aspect of our continued fight to tackle serious and organised crime. I hope this sends a clear message to the public of our determination to rid communities of this sort of criminalisation and to make our streets safer.”

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