One of the UK’s most wanted criminals, Dean Garforth, who was apprehended and extradited from Spain, has now been sentenced to 19 and a half years behind bars for his pivotal role in the supply of drugs and firearms across Cheshire in the UK.
Garforth, 31, operated at the top of a criminal network. He utilised the encrypted communication network EncroChat to coordinate the distribution of substantial amounts of class A and B drugs. Cheshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit began building a case against him in April 2020, monitoring and analysing messages sent under the handle ‘Slickcliff.’
The breakthrough in the investigation occurred on May 24, 2020. A white Ford Transit Van associated with Garforth had failed to stop for officers. A subsequent police pursuit and search led to the discovery of the van. The van had been parked and locked but a mobile phone forensically linked to Garforth was recovered from the vehicle.
The investigation revealed Garforth had been actively involved in conversations on EncroChat from March to July 2020. He discussed the receipt and arrangement of multiple deliveries of cocaine, cannabis, firearms, and ammunition in and around the north-west region of the UK.
On October 27, 2020, a warrant executed at Garforth’s home in Regency Park confirmed his evasion of arrest. Apparently, he had fled the country to Spain. Over the next two years, UK police worked tireless to locate him, collaborating closely with their counterparts here in Spain. A public appeal in January 2022, featured Garforth in a ‘most wanted’ campaign. This was aimed at tracing him as authorities believed he was hiding in Spain.
Arrested in Marbella
The breakthrough came on October 24, 2022, when Garforth was arrested in Nueva Andalucia, Marbella, while riding an e-bike. Clad in sports clothes, sunglasses, and a cap, he attempted to evade plain-clothed officers, leading to a physical altercation and his subsequent arrest. The operation involved the National Crime Agency, Spanish National Police, and Cheshire Police.
Extradition from Spain
Following his extradition from Spain to the UK on March 14 last year, Garforth was charged with conspiracy to supply cocaine and cannabis, as well as conspiracy to supply weapons and ammunition. Appearing before Chester Crown Court, according to UK press reports, he was sentenced to almost two decades by Judge Steven Everett.
DCI Nick Henderson, of Cheshire Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, expressed satisfaction with the outcome, stating, “Garforth, like many criminals, believed EncroChat would always be a safe and secure service to message freely and openly without being detected. Unbeknown to him, our detectives were watching.”
Henderson highlighted the significance of cracking the EncroChat network, emphasising the impact on serious and organised crime. The investigation exposed not only drug-related activities but also discussions about hidden deadly weapons, including semi-automatic assault rifles and pistols.
The successful collaboration between multiple agencies and the meticulous work of detectives analyzing messages on EncroChat ultimately ensured that Garforth is now behind bars, facing severe consequences for his involvement in organized crime.
At the beginning of 2022, the UK´s National Crime Agency (NCA) in conjunction with British charity Crimestoppers, launched a campaign to capture the UK´s most wanted criminals thought to be living in Spain. We are now in 2024, and the campaign to arrest the UK most wanted continues.
Help find these “most wanted” criminals
The Spanish and UK police ask for citizen collaboration to help capture these criminals still on the run. Any information given is 100% anonymous. Always!
From a UK number, call 0800 555 111, or from a Spanish number, call 900 926 111. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 091.
Thanks to citizen cooperation and an on-going social media presence by the Spanish police, there have been several arrests so far. However, there are still criminals out there. Some of which have been on the run for a number of years. These people are in our everyday lives, somewhere! Let´s help get them off the streets.