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Heroin smuggler lorry driver arrested at Harwich after Operation Venetic jailed at Chelmsford Crown Court
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.
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.
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 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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Reporter Abigail Nicholson infront of Norwich Castle. Picture: Archant
Before moving to Norwich to work for this paper, the most I knew about it were the names Delia Smith and Alan Partridge.
Now, almost two years later, Norfolk is a place I happily call home.
Here are some of the reasons why I fell in love with Norfolk:
1. The coast
That wonderful seaside smell of salty air and a mix of fresh fish and chips… nothing can beat it.
And when it comes to coastlines, Norfolk’s is one of the most vast and beautiful.
Being from Merseyside, I have always lived by the sea and could not imagine being any further than an hour away.
2. The people
As a Scouser, I was quite nervous when I first moved away from home as I didn’t think I would find anywhere as friendly as Liverpool.
I was wrong.
Norfolkians welcomed me with open arms – with a few digs about my accent – and made me feel right at home.
3. Market towns and the shop local mindset
Some of Norfolk’s markets have been serving locals with fresh fruit, vegetables, produce and plants for centuries.
I love that this culture still exists in Norfolk today, especially as it is so easy for people to go to the supermarket or shop online.
Something I especially love about the county is how keen the public are to celebrate and champion their local businesses.
4. The city
Norwich is the best-preserved medieval city in Britain and the home of wonderful people and beautiful architecture.
Everything from the historic Norman castle and cathedrals to the bustling high street and market – Norwich has something for everyone.
I can’t help but be amazed at how much greenery the city has managed to keep.
5. Music and food
I have never eaten as well as when I first moved to Norfolk.
The local produce being sold and cooked in local pubs, restaurants and cafes is second to none.
The music scene in Norwich especially is also thriving and something the county is very proud of.
6. Green space
As mentioned a little further up, I love that our countryside has been preserved and locals are able to enjoy walking, cycling and driving past the scenery.
It’s so easy to get lost in the brilliant parks and gorgeous walking routes in the county, and it’s something I will never get bored of.
Before I came to Norfolk I had never seen or been on a steam train.
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The fact that the county has been able to keep its history alive with heritage railways is wonderful.
It’s great to see how these trains have adapted over time with the addition of The Polar Express.
From seals at Blakeney Point to the array of rare birds, Norfolk is a wildlife lover’s dream.
Even though I don’t know much about animals, I love seeing beautiful photographs being sent in by our readers of various creatures they’ve spotted.
9. Snetterton Circuit
As an avid motorsport fan, having Snetterton Circuit on your doorstep is pretty amazing.
Whether you’re a fan of bikes, cars or trucks, the track has dozens of events each year for petrol heads.
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