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Wolverhampton man convicted of trading in drugs and firearms

A Wolverhampton man has been convicted of dealing in firearms and kilos of drugs after his encrypted phone chats were revealed as part of an international operation.

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Max Williams. Photo: West Midlands Police

Max Williams, of Sambrook Road, Wolverhampton, believed he was operating under the radar of the law enforcement agencies but as part of a huge operation by West Midlands Regional Organised Crimes Unit (ROCU) he's now facing prison.

The investigation forms part of Operation Target, which is part of West Midlands Police's focus on tackling the most serious criminals in the West Midlands.

Williams thought he'd evade detection using EncroChat, a phone messaging service favoured by criminals because they thought messages on it could not be seen by law enforcement.

Daniel Morgan. Photo: West Midlands Police

He was a broker in firearms, ammunition and class A drugs and the decoded chats showed that he was trading in semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, as well as ammunition.

Hiding behind the user handle of Skilledtwig he spoke openly about his business. He had regular conversations with a man called Daniel Morgan who was known as Noisy Jade.

Both men were also involved in the buying and selling large quantities of cocaine, heroin, MDMA and different strains of cannabis in addition to 100s of pills which are believed to have been ecstasy.

Blocks of cocaine. Photo: West Midlands Police

But in 2020 law enforcement agencies in Europe had developed a way to collect data from EncroChat, and the information was shared with ROCU.

Police found chats showing the men sourced the drugs and took a wage, or as they put it 'a drink' off the top of the costs.

By cross-referencing their chats, mobile data, and images from their phones, investigators were able to link them to their illegal and dangerous trade.

Among those images were a semi-automatic pistol, being traded with another firearm for around £15,000, and a kilo block of cocaine, stamped with the word 'Paris'.

Most of the discussions the men had around drugs talked of quantities in kilograms, half kilograms and quarter kilograms.

1 kilo of cocaine with 'Paris' engraved. Photo: West Midlands Police

Morgan was arrested on 10 December, 2020, and an address he was using in Tyndale Crescent, Birmingham, was searched. As well as quantities of cocaine and heroin valued at over £5,000 being seized, around £85,000 in cash was also recovered.

Williams, aged 35, was arrested from his home in Sambrook Road, Wolverhampton on December, 11, 2020 and a number of phones were seized.

Williams denied supplying class A and B drugs and the supply of firearms and ammunition but was found guilty after a four-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Morgan, aged 39, of Parkeston Crescent Birmingham, pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing. Both men are due to be sentenced on December 19.

Semi-automatic pistol. Photo: West Midlands Police

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Cooke from ROCU, said: "This was a complex investigation but it has resulted in a supply chain of both firearms and drugs being broken up.

"These men traded in weapons which were surely destined to be used to cause fear and harm, whilst the drugs they supplied would have likely brought misery to the communities they seep into.

"But we've been able to use their own words and actions to bring these men to justice.

"We're committed to removing guns and drugs from our streets as Op Target continues force-wide, with the us taking a defiant stand against a range of serious and organised crime."

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