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Heroin smuggler lorry driver arrested at Harwich after Operation Venetic jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court

Dariusz Urban, of Ostrzeszow, Poland, was arrested at Harwich International Port for smuggling heroin after police cracked the EncroChat criminal communication network in Operation Venetic. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY

Dariusz Urban, of Ostrzeszow, Poland, was arrested at Harwich International Port for smuggling heroin after police cracked the EncroChat criminal communication network in Operation Venetic. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY

National Crime Agency

A lorry driver arrested at Harwich docks with heroin worth £1.25 million after police cracked an encrypted criminal communications platform has been jailed for 12 years.

The drugs were hidden inside a steel ramp carried on board Dariusz Urban's lorry. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCYThe drugs were hidden inside a steel ramp carried on board Dariusz Urban’s lorry. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY

Dariusz Urban was found with 25kg of heroin hidden in his load of crisps by officers from the Border Force, who were waiting for him after being alerted by the National Crime Agency agency (NCA).

Urban’s arrest was as a result of Operation Venetic, a major coup by international law enforcement officers in February when they cracked the EncroChat network – used exclusively by criminals to communicate with each other in secret.

The NCA worked through millions of pieces of information and was able to use the intelligence to catch 49-year-old Urban as he drove his lorry into Harwich International Port on April 15.

The Border Force officers found 50 packets of drugs, with an estimated street value of £1.25m, hidden inside two steel vehicle ramps inside the truck.

The drugs were found hidden in steel ramps carried on board Dariusz Urban's lorry. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCYThe drugs were found hidden in steel ramps carried on board Dariusz Urban’s lorry. Picture: NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY

Urban, of Ostrzeszow, western Poland, was also in possession of an EncroChat phone.

A day later, an international drugs supplier shared a screen shot on EncroChat of the NCA story and asked the suspected UK recipient of the drugs: “This you?”

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The supplier has now been arrested in the Netherlands by Dutch authorities.

Urban was arrested at Harwich International Port with 25kg of heroin hidden in his lorry. Picture: FILE/ANDREW PARTRIDGEUrban was arrested at Harwich International Port with 25kg of heroin hidden in his lorry. Picture: FILE/ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Urban was jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court after admitting attempting to import Class A drugs.

Operation Venetic has smashed thousands of criminal conspiracies, resulted in the arrests of hundreds of suspects, and the seizure of scores of firearms and more than two tonnes of Class A and B drugs.

NCA Deputy Director Matt Horne, who is the gold commander on Operation Venetic, said: “Darius Urban’s sentencing is another example of the impact the NCA, Border Force and UK policing are having on serious organised crime.

“Like many other cases, with this operation we were able to plot how the drugs would be picked up and moved and when would be best to strike. There is much more to come.”

NCA branch commander Mark Spoors added: “Drug traffickers don’t care at all about the hell they wreak on communities.

“The seizure of this significant amount of heroin means the crime groups trading it have lost money which won’t be fed back into other drugs deals.

“Stopping drugs traffickers is a top priority – and we’ll continue working with our partners at home and abroad to do it.”


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