A DRUG dealer who supplied millions of pounds of cocaine across the UK from Bournemouth to Glasgow was caught due to a distinctive mural at his home of UFC star Conor McGregor.

Ryan Palin, 36, orchestrated a criminal network that relied upon people willing to traffic drugs on a daily basis and concealed his criminal gains using legitimate businesses as cover.

He also relied on a highly encrypted form of telecommunications, known to its users as the EncroChat network.

Criminals thought that Encrochat phones could not be hacked into by the authorities.

However, in April 2020, police in Europe cracked the system and a number of prosecutions across the continent have followed, including in the UK.

Users of the EncroChat network have "handles", or nicknames, to allow others to contact them, without having to refer to a user’s true name. Ryan Palin used the handle “titch.com”.

Encrochat devices also provide users with a facility to make and store notes.

The data on the “titch.com” device revealed, over a nine-month period between 2019 and 2020, the supply of 700kg of cocaine and the movement of more than £32,000,000.

The device also revealed a number of messages and photos that revealed personal details about “titch.com” that led investigators to Ryan Palin.

An image on the encrypted phone showed a distinctive mural of the UFC star Connor McGregor.

Bournemouth Echo:

This proved key to linking the encrypted phone to Palin, as officers were able to identify that the wall the mural was painted on was a wall at the home address of the defendant.

On December 9, 2021, Palin, of Mereworth, Caldy in Wirral, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs of class A and B. He made no reply when cautioned.

His home in Caldy was searched. Designer clothing worth £136,830 was found. Expensive watches were also discovered – two of them were valued at £97,000.

He was charged with conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs but pleaded not guilty. However, on June 17, he was found guilty following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. He was jailed for 29 years.

Bournemouth Echo: Ryan Palin, 29 and from the WirralRyan Palin, 29 and from the Wirral

Senior crown prosecutor Maria Corr, of CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s complex casework unit, said: “The authorities cracked the Encrochat system and cases like this one have followed ever since. The personal details that emerged from the user of “titch.com” were just too detailed, too specific and too many to relate to anybody other than Ryan Palin.

“He was orchestrating a UK-wide drugs supply enterprise and had a lavish lifestyle, a million-pound house, designer clothes, cars, watches and a live-in housekeeper. He set up fake businesses as a cover for his wealth.

“Now he is behind bars for a very long time. Drugs bring misery to our communities and the dealers behind them cannot avoid the authorities for long.”

Detective Sergeant Graeme Kehoe said: “We welcome todays verdict and sentence and now that Ryan Palin is behind bars and can no longer peddle huge amounts of drugs and misery on the streets of Merseyside and beyond.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Palin chose to go to trial. Fortunately the jury saw through his lies and Palin can now consider the consequences of his actions while he serves a significant time in jail.

“Palin’s substantial sentence should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in this criminality that there are serious consequences. We simply won’t let people live off the profits of criminality while our law-abiding communities work hard to make an honest living - we will find you and bring you to justice.

“Merseyside Police, along with law enforcement agencies across the world, will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of those people who think they are above the law, and we will continue to target anyone involved in serious organised crime to keep this positive momentum going.

“We rely on our local communities to be our eyes and ears as part of these investigations and I would continue to urge people to come forward if they have information which could assist us.”