Key player in Encrochat drugs and money laundering conspiracy jailed


A 42-year-old man has been jailed for 15 years, after admitting a conspiracy to supply cocaine and launder thousands of pounds following an investigation by the Organised Crime Partnership (OCP).

Ervin Patru, from Albania, was arrested at his home in Harrow by officers from the OCP – a joint partnership between the National Crime Agency and the Metropolitan Police Service – in December 2020.

The investigation was launched after OCP officers analysed messages shared by Patru on EncroChat – the encrypted messaging platform that was brought down last year as part of Operation Venetic.

Using the handle ‘veteranbeer’, Patru exchanged 14,000 lines of messages about selling Class A drugs.

In the messages Patru displays nervousness over law-enforcement activity and tells associates he was ‘frightened’ into briefly ceasing his communications.

Messages were also found linking Patru to a previous OCP arrest, during which an Albanian national was found with 4 kilos of cocaine following a high-speed police chase.

The ‘veteranbeer’ alias speaks of 4 ‘packets of ours’ which ‘got seized’ and expresses relief that a ‘fallen’ associate did not ‘talk’ and ‘**** everything up’.

Patru was charged on 11 December 2020 with Class A drug supply and money laundering offences and remanded in custody. He pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced yesterday (22/06/2021) at Harrow Crown Court to 15 years in prison.

OCP Operations Manager Matt McMillan said: “Disrupting the communications between criminals on digital platforms is a crucial part of preventing illegal drugs from reaching streets in the UK.

“The apprehensive tone of Patru’s messages indicates the success of our collective efforts to disrupt the trade in class A drugs, which fuels violence and exploitation.

“This investigation is yet another example of the NCA and Met Police working together to protect the public.”