Man who flooded Chester and Ellesmere Port with drugs is jailed

-Credit:Cheshire Constabulary
-Credit:Cheshire Constabulary

A man who flooded Chester and Ellesmere Port with drugs and flaunted his criminal wealth with expensive cars and a lavish lifestyle has now been jailed. The Ellesmere Port man was eventually caught using an encrypted messaging service to communicate on a large-scale drugs conspiracy.

Jay Roberts, of Nelson Road, appeared at Chester Crown Court on Friday (May 3) where he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, MDMA, ketamine, and cannabis, conspiracy to produce MDMA and possession of criminal property.

Detectives from Cheshire’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) analysed the encrypted data used by Roberts and read his messages to other EncroChat users where he discussed buying and selling cocaine, MDMA, ketamine, and cannabis, between March 2020 and June 2020.

Following the breakthrough, officers discovered messages sent by Roberts, who went by the username ‘Ripebrow’, where he openly discussed how the Covid-19 lockdown could prove beneficial to his criminal enterprise.

-Credit:Cheshire Constabulary
-Credit:Cheshire Constabulary

The 31-year-old talked about how the additional restrictions put in place due to the pandemic would render other drug dealing competitors out of pocket and unable to access their supply, meaning the market for these illegal drugs would increase and Roberts could make even more profits.

He then used his national upstream suppliers to source large amounts of class A and B drugs before redistributing the supply to other Encrochat users.

Roberts was also trusted to accrue multi-kilo drug orders on ‘tick’ (also known as credit) and would at times be in over £100,000 worth of debt with his suppliers.

He began operating at such a high level of criminality that he was in early discussions about the potential importation of significant quantities of controlled drugs in to the UK.

The scale of his criminality was assessed, revealing that Roberts sourced 19 kilograms of cocaine, three kilograms of MDMA, 1.5 kilograms of ketamine, and 23 kilograms of cannabis between March 2020 and June 2020.

At around 1.40pm on Tuesday 28 November 2023, ANPR cameras alerted officers to a white Mercedes travelling on the M6 that had previously been linked to Roberts.

With assistance from the police helicopter, officers surrounded his car, forcing him to come to a stop, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply class A controlled drugs.

After he was arrested and taken into custody for questioning, his home was searched, and significant quantities of cocaine and cannabis were found. A storage unit used by Roberts was also identified and searched. This led to the discovery of a press used to produce ecstasy tablets (MDMA), a cash counting machine and other drug paraphernalia, including dealer lists.

He was charged with an array of drug offences, including conspiracy to supply class A and B drugs and being concerned in the production of a class A drugs.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Henderson, of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “We have been relentless in pursuing those who have so far been identified as using the secretive encrypted device in order to commit organised crime, and Roberts is one of many who thought they could operate above the law, but my team were hot on his tail.

“Roberts was a well-established organised criminal and a key player in the large-scale commercial drugs business, supplying substantial amounts of illegal drugs in the Chester and Ellesmere Port areas which he profited from and led to him living a lavish lifestyle.

“He reaped the benefits of his ill-gotten gains while the rest of the country were adhering to lockdown restrictions, but it was always going to catch up with him. Thanks to the work undertaken by my detectives who the analysed the messages, he is now behind bars facing justice.

“This shows that no matter what you think you are doing to cover your tracks, we are one step ahead. We will do everything we can to make sure that each and every individual involved in Serious and Organised Crime pay for the misery that they bring to communities across Cheshire.”

NEWSLETTER: Sign up for CheshireLive email direct to your inbox here