Northern Ireland news

Man who laundered cash and couriered drugs for organised crime gang sentenced following EncroChat investigation

A man who laundered cash and couriered drugs for an organised crime gang has been handed sentences totalling 27 months.

Ordering Miceal Fearon to serve half the sentence in jail and half on licence, Judge Gordon Kerr KC said that with the 30-year-old to soon become a father, “it’s tragic that he will not be around for the early stages of his child’s life.”

“The court takes no pleasure in sentencing this way but he has brought it upon himself,” said the Newry Crown Court judge.

At an earlier hearing Fearon, from Eden Valley in Jonesborough, entered guilty pleas to two drug offences that he was concerned in supplying cocaine and cannabis in addition to an offence of entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property, committed between October 7, 2020 and February 20, 2021.

Initially arrested as part of the Europe wide Operation Venetic, EncroChat investigation, Fearon was arrested in May 2021 on the basis of information which was harvested from previously encrypted phones.

Routinely used by criminals trying to hide their nefarious activities from investigators, the EncroChat network was hacked by French detectives.

Users were given a code name and a handset which could only communicate with other specific handsets and in Fearon’s case, his Codename was “micealsouth.”

Judge Kerr said while it was clear that Fearon “was in possession of large sums of money….derived from cigarettes and latterly drugs,” which he converted.

The judge told the court while the PPS were not able to evidence the exact amounts to the requisite standard, it was estimated that he converted “between 100,000 to 500,000 from sterling to euro and vice versa.”

Moving from money laundering into illicit drugs, Fearon “became involved as a drugs courier for class A and B drugs” cocaine and cannabis “at the direction” of the same person from whom he was laundering cash.

In mitigation, Fearon had medical issues and had admitted his guilt but Judge Kerr said there was also a significant aggravating factor in that the offending had gone on for a lengthy period and also that the defendant had a relevant previous conviction in relation to cigarette smuggling.

Imposing 18 months for the drugs and money laundering offences, the judge also added on nine months from the previously suspended sentence, making the total of 27 months.


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