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Operation Venetic: 15 years for drug dealer who talked about ‘best ever’ butcher

A drug dealer has been jailed for 15 years after talking about trainers and his butcher online.

Dean Cooper, 51, was sentenced today after he admitted supplying £3.68m of cocaine, £900,000 of heroin and other drugs, including ketamine, amphetamine and 50kg of cannabis resin.

National Crime Agency investigators, as part of Operation Venetic, the NCA-led response to the takedown of encrypted communications platform EncroChat, caught Cooper after painstaking analysis.

Cooper, of Atwood Grove, Roby, Liverpool, used the handle ‘Berrystar’ on EncroChat.

He sent messages to contacts about drugs deals and NCA officers used a variety of methods to establish that Cooper and Berrystar were the same.

They were helped by Cooper sending one criminal contact a message, saying: “You’ve got to get to this butchers on Tuesday best meat ever had mate.”

Berrystar shared the butcher’s name and when officers investigated they confirmed Cooper had spent £34 at the shop.

Berrystar had also told one contact about spending £240 on two pairs of trainers.

Cooper’s bank statement showed he had spent the same sum at a shoe shop mentioned in the chats. And NCA officers also recovered from Cooper’s home a pair of Nike Air Max 270 React trainers that he had spoken about in a separate conversation.

Berrystar had also sent photographs on EncroChat from inside a house – the pictures matched inside Cooper’s home.

In February this year Cooper appeared at Liverpool Crown Court and admitted, between 30 March 2020 and 24 April 2020, conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, cannabis resin and ketamine to customers in Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. He also admitted possession of cocaine.

EncroChat conversations and notes involving Berrystar showed that Cooper was involved in payments and exchanges of cash amounting to at least £3.73million.

NCA operations manager Mark Morrison said: 

“A lot of very careful work was initially done in this case to resolve the identity behind the Berrystar handle.

“Cooper’s conversations about his butcher and his trainers helped ensure the case was rock solid and he had no choice but to admit his guilt.

“Tackling the Class A drugs threat is a key priority for the NCA in its mission to protect the UK public.”

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