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Sorry Luke £48,000 won’t cut the mustard but another £176,000 will do nicely, a court decides

Jailed Peterborough drug dealer given 3 months to pay

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A Peterborough drug dealer already serving a 10-year sentence will stay there for a further 3 years unless he coughs up £176,000 from his “available assets” a court has decided. Police have already seized just over £48,000 but now Luke Waters, 28, has been ordered to hand over a further £176,669.

A Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing was held at Cambridge Crown Court on June 13 where Waters was found to have benefited just under £1,270,000 through organising the large-scale distribution of cocaine and heroin before being caught out after “secret” messages were cracked.

He was one of many people found to be dealing class A drugs as part of Operation Venetic – the UK’s response to one of the world’s largest providers of encrypted communications, EncroChat, being cracked by international law enforcement.

Waters, previously of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, was linked to the platform handle of “decentsatin” and found to be communicating with other known drug dealers.

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The encrypted messages showed Waters confirming his cocaine had “landed” in the UK and offering to sell it to other dealers in the region of £40,000 per kilo.

Evidence was found of him living a lavish lifestyle and boasting about high-end purchases of watches, having “street trophies” and splashing cash on social media.

Luke Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, used social media to boost about the high life – ultimately it contributed to his downfall

Luke Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, used social media to boost about the high life – ultimately it contributed to his downfall

Detectives uncovered images on his mobile phone of what appeared to be Waters throwing a phone into the sea, with the caption “bye Encro”, after EncroChat had been decrypted by law enforcement.

In December 2021, he was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin, as well as acquiring criminal property, all of which he admitted in court, and was jailed for ten years and two months in July 2022.

Just over £48,000 has already been seized by police, however, at the hearing held last week, Waters was ordered to hand over a further £176,669.60 from his ‘available assets’ – totalling £225,244 – within three months or face a further three years in prison.

Detective Constable Andy MacDonald, who investigated, said: “This investigation began in spring 2020 which saw data uncovered following the seizure of servers linked to the EncroChat platform – an encryption tool used exclusively by criminals to communicate with each other.

“We obtained an abundance of evidence proving Waters generated significant amounts of money through the sale of drugs, as well as purchasing high-value items including designer clothing and Rolex watches worth tens of thousands of pounds each.

“Waters’ criminal business benefitted him to the tune of £1.2million – while he has only been ordered to pay the remaining ‘hidden’ assets of £176k, the full benefit figure will remain with him for life, meaning he will be liable to having any future assets confiscated if suitable.

Luke Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, used social media to boost about the high life – ultimately it contributed to his downfall

Luke Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, used social media to boost about the high life – ultimately it contributed to his downfall

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“Half of the money will go to the government, the remainder is then split equally between the Crown Prosecution Service, His Majesty’s Court Service and police.

“I would like to thank the Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU) within the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) for their assistance with this investigation – through joint working we have ensured a significant drug dealer has been stripped of his illicit gains.”

Waters was finally caught and arrested by police on the A47 heading towards Eye in Peterborough after reports of a suspected drug deal involving that vehicle, but released under investigation after he claimed £3,914 in cash on him was for a car he was on his way to buy.

Following further investigation, Waters, of Salix Road, Hampton Hargate, was arrested at a fuel station in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

Evidence was found of him living a lavish lifestyle and boasting about high-end purchases of watches, having “street trophies” and splashing cash on social media.

A download of his mobile phone also uncovered images of what appeared to be Waters throwing a phone into the sea, with the caption “bye Encro”, after EncroChat had been decrypted by law enforcement.

He was charged with being concerned in the supply of cocaine and heroin, as well as acquiring criminal property, all of which he admitted in court.

He also admitted assault by beating after he punched a man in the face over a fallout with his brother on 27 December.

He appeared at Peterborough Crown Court in July 2022 where he was sentenced to 10 years and two months in prison.

Sentencing, Judge Matthew Lowe said Waters was involved in the wholesale supply of class A drugs and had acted for financial gain, with an abundance of evidence showing his significant assets.

He added that Waters was close to importation sources and aggravating factors to his sentence included his previous convictions for drug supply, continued involvement in drug supply until December 2021, utilising technology for his activities.

Judge Lowe said there was little in the way of mitigation other than Waters’ young age.

 

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