How a Pet dog collar and accidental reflection in a photo helped convict international drugs traffickers

By posting a picture of his dog on the encrypted messaging service EncroChat and pointing out that his partner’s phone number was written on the animal’s collar, a narcotics trafficker was able to assist law enforcement in the dismantling of his own organized criminal gang.

Throwthedice was the online handle that Danny Brown, age 55, used while he was active on EncroChat. During the time that he and Stefan Baldauf, 62, were working together on a plan to ship 448 kilograms of MDMA worth £45 million to Australia, he emailed a picture of his pet, whom he called “Bob,” to Baldauf.

In the year 2020, EncroChat was shut down. The National Crime Agency (NCA) was in charge of Operation Venetic, the reaction of UK law enforcement to the shutdown, which supplied investigators with communications that criminals had sent while believing the site was secure from the notice of law enforcement agencies all around the world.

EncroChat members did not use their actual identities when sending phone messages; rather, they all used a ‘handle,’ which the detectives required to be able to connect to real-world suspects. Messages sent over the phone were encrypted.

Messages found on EncroChat indicate that the six guys from the UK began their own investigation and conducted meetings in order to determine who was responsible for stealing the narcotics.

Brown and Baldauf also exchanged unintentional photographs of themselves on Encrochat, which provided detectives with more evidence that they were part in the operation, which comprised concealing the narcotics in the arm of an industrial digger and transporting them to Australia.

The OCG members pretended that they were going to sell the 40-ton Doosan digger by shipping it down to Australia.

They held an online auction in order to give the appearance that the excavator’s importation into Australia was lawful. However, they manipulated it by agreeing to a pre-arranged bid with the people who were supposed to get the money.

Investigators from the National Crime Agency focused their attention on the phone number and utilized it as one of several strategies in a laborious investigation to provide evidence that Brown was involved in the scheme.

When Brown was finally taken into custody, Bob was there to see it. At the end of June, the Kingston Crown Court found Brown, Baldauf, and Reilly guilty of cocaine trafficking together with three other male defendants.

Today, Brown received a sentence of 26 years in prison, Baldauf received 28 years, and Reilly received 24 years.

Late in 2019 and early in 2020, the three and their accomplices hatched a strategy to ship the drugs, which had a purity level of 77.5 percent, to Australia, where the price of MDMA on the market is far greater than in the UK.

Brown, who lives on Kings Hall Road in Bromley, Kent, was a member of a crime group, and he was the one who uploaded a picture to the group showing his television with his reflection in it.

And Baldauf, who lives on Midhurst Road in Ealing, London, was kind enough to send along a photo of a brass door sign that had a reflection of his face.

During the days leading up to and after the event, the Encro phones belonging to OCG members were in constant communication with one another and, at various points, utilized the same cell sites.

It took from the 24th of January to the 13th of March for the digger to finally arrive in Brisbane, Australia. Mizen Equipment hired a haulage company 1,600 pounds to transfer the digger to Southampton Docks.

Before allowing the digger to go to its intended destination, which was an auction house in Sydney, authorities from the Australian Border Force x-rayed it, removed the narcotics from it, sealed up the arm, and implanted a tracker as well as a listening device.

In May of 2020, the digger was relocated to a tiny location west of Sydney, and Lawson sent the Australian OCG a drawn schematic detailing precisely where the narcotics were stored and how the digger should be opened.

Brown and Baldauf were both taken into custody on the 15th of June, 2020, in Putney, which is located in south west London. Brown had his Encro phone in his hands at the time.

There discovered an iPhone belonging to Baldauf in his vehicle, and it had texts indicating that he had told individuals his Encro handle was “Boldmove.”

After being charged with the crime, the perpetrators made many attempts to have the case thrown out of court on the grounds that the evidence obtained via EncroChat was not acceptable.

They received a verdict of guilty from the jury.

Lawson got 23 years, Murray got 24, and Borg got 15 for their roles in the crime.

Gordon Meilack, 63, of Kingsway, Camberley, Surrey, and Piotr Malinowski, 39, of De’Arn Gardens, Mitcham, London, were both exonerated of any responsibility for their role in the scheme.

The two individuals, along with numerous others, were found guilty of conspiring to ship 448 kilograms of MDMA worth £45 million ($55 million) to Australia while concealing it in a 40-ton industrial digger.

According to Chris Hill, who is in charge of operations for the NCA, the organized criminal organization went to tremendous measures to ensure that their strategy was successful.

“These men thought they were safe on EncroChat, but my officers did a superb and painstaking job of building the evidence against them through a mixture of traditional and modern detective skills,” he added. “My officers built the evidence against them using a combination of traditional and modern detective skills.”