Drug boss wanted ambulance to help transport cocaine during lockdown

A criminal planned to buy a decommissioned ambulance to move drugs around the country during lockdown.

Dad-of-two Martin Grant, 33, was jailed for over 14 years on Friday after Liverpool Crown Court heard he acted as a “wholesale broker” within the drug economy. Grant supplied high quality cocaine from South America and heroin.

Grant, who used the Encro handle ‘SwiftOrchid ‘ began selling drugs days after he was released from prison on licence in 2019. Grant had been jailed for ten years in 2015 for slashing a man across the face with a knife.

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During the hearing Ben Jones, prosecuting, told the court that Grant had been trying to source an ambulance to help move drugs around the country during lockdown. Mr Jones said that Grant wanted an ambulance to avoid attracting unwanted attention on the road network during the national lockdown in 2020.

Police found pictures of ambulances for sale on Ebay on Grant’s Encrophone, Mr Jones told the court Grant was distributing drugs to the Wolverhampton area, Blackburn and Carlisle.

Judge Denis Watson said that Grant had clearly been trying to source a “decommissioned ambulance” to facilitate the movement of drugs. Judge Watson added that Grant’s drug supply operation would have increased in scale but for the police’s intervention.

Grant, who had moved to the Southport area, sent pictures of parties in his back garden on his Encro device. He also posted photographs of his son wearing a Colombian ‘Cali’ football jersey.

This information helped police link the Encro handle to Grant, in a process known as attribution. At one point Grant is thought to have shared the phone with another criminal. Grant had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply heroin, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Judge Watson described Grant as a “broker for wholesale drugs” and linked him to 9.5kg of cocaine, 5kg of heroin, 30kg of amphetamine and six kilos of cannabis.

Judge Watson told Grant the fact he was on licence at the time of his offending was an aggravating factor. He jailed him for 14 years and six months. The Liverpool man had previous convictions for vehicle taking, blackmail, handling stolen goods, section 18 wounding and possession of an offensive weapon.

Grant is a former managing director of Liverpool-based health and safety company Safety Support Consultants Limited (SSC). Grant, originally from the Old Swan area, joined the company in September 2019 and resigned in January 2020. There is no suggestion his EncroChat activity was linked to SSC.

Mr Jones told the court that Grant appeared to be communicating with more senior criminals who were importing drugs into the UK. These criminals were not identified. His young brother Liam Grant was also involved in drugs.

Liam Grant used the handle Beigeplam and specialised in the sale of cannabis. At one point the brothers discussed buying their mother’s house so they could launder the proceeds of crime from Liam’s cannabis operation.

Liam Grant, of Holland Street in Fairfield, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply amphetamine and conspiracy to supply cannabis. He was jailed for four years and six months during a separate hearing.

Although the Grants were not convicted of any offences involving violence, analysis of their phones showed they were prepared to use violence to enforce their drug business.

Speaking after the sentencing District Crown Prosecutor Jonathan Egan, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Complex Casework Unit, said: “Martin and Liam Grant were both heavily involved in the dangerous and illegal world of drug dealing.

“They worked together and ran their own illicit businesses – businesses that cause misery to both individuals and communities.

“The messages that were found on the phones showed they were prepared to use violence to protect their illegal trade. Merseyside Police and the Crown Prosecution Service built a strong case against these two men and they eventually pleaded guilty.

“Criminals thought they had beaten the authorities when they started using EncroChat phones but law enforcement agencies cracked the system and Liam and Martin Grant are just two of the many offenders who are now being brought to justice.”

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