Police use of high-tech message-reading capabilities helped to snare a County Durham drug ‘broker’ who traded cocaine in the region.

Peter Hudson’s activities were uncovered by detectives who were able to decipher encrypted messages sent on his mobile phone.

Details of the police operation have emerged in the wake of the 14-year prison sentence imposed earlier this month on the 27-year-old dealer, from Birch Road, West Cornforth.

As reported in The Northern Echo, earlier this week, Hudson was convicted of being concerned in the supply of class A drugs and then jailed in his absence, after he failed to attend at his trial or at a pre-trial hearing at Durham Crown Court.

Read more: Bench warrant at large for arrest of County Durham cocaine dealer

A bench warrant for his arrest remains at large, following his sentencing hearing.

The court heard that Hudson was stopped in a car in October in 2020, carrying £6,000 in cash.

He was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and the £6,000 was forfeited as inquiries continued.  

A few months later, officers attended Hudson’s home address where a cash counting machine and a further £8,000 was seized.

He was, again, unable to prove it had been made legally and he was arrested for being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.

Intelligence officers reviewing Hudson’s phone subsequently identified him as being responsible for exchanging messages on the EncroChat network using the handle ‘Boxer-Rapid’.

Unbeknown to Hudson, the officers managed to uncover the information from his conversations afterwards, which showed he had been trading several kilograms of cocaine, worth thousands of pounds, at a time.

He was due to attend the court to surrender his passport in June, after he failed to appear the warrant was issued for his arrest.

As a result, the trial went ahead in his absence, leading to his conviction and the long sentence being imposed.

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Temporary Detective Inspector Amanda Howe, of Durham Police, said: “Drugs bring misery to our communities, so we will always do everything in our power to stop and disrupt those supplying and dealing these substances.

“Hudson thought he could conceal his drug dealing but officers left no stone unturned to uncover his criminal activity and bring him to justice.

“This type of activity will continue under the banner of Operation Sentinel, a partnership initiative targeting serious and organised crime across the region.

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“It also forms part of the national Operation Venetic, a sophisticated clampdown on organised criminals which sees international law enforcement agencies working together to infiltrate encrypted messaging platform, EncroChat.

“We can’t do this without the help of the public and would urge anyone with information on the supply of drugs or individuals involved in serious and organised crime to please get in touch, either directly through us or through Crimestoppers, anonymously.”

Callers should use the 101 line to pass on any information, or use the force’s 101 Live Chat www.durham.police.uk/Report-It/101-Live-Chat, or, alternatively call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on (0800) 555111.