‘Big popa’ drug dealer handed sentence after police cracked his encrypted phone

A DRUG dealer caught after police cracked an encrypted phone full of damning messages has been jailed for eight years.

Darren Collin was held before £1.3m of heroin and cocaine as well as £517,000 of cash was seized.

Detectives had also discovered a white V-Smart mobile in the 29 year-old’s Citreon Berlingo van.

It was found to be an encrypted device with Collin having the user name “Big Popa”.

The phone had messages linking him to the delivery of drugs and money as well as photos of illegal hauls.

It also revealed Collins had texted an associate seconds after being stopped by police stating: “Been caught”.

Collin was sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow having earlier pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine.

Lord Armstrong said Collin’s level of involvement showed the drug operation was “organised and planned”.

The judge said the jail-term would have been 12 years, but for the guilty plea.

The court heard how police began surveillance on Collin in late April this year.

He was initially clocked driving an expensive Audi SQ7 before going into the Berlingo van.

Police clocked him involved in what appeared to be drug transactions including collecting three large tubs in the Dawsholm Road Industrial Estate near the city’s Anniesland.

Collin was soon stopped in neighbouring Fulton Street on April 29.

The V-Smart phone was one of a number of mobiles seized.

The encrypted device revealed Collin was regularly in touch with 10 contacts.

They had nicknames including ‘icecream’, ‘blackhorse’, ‘magicstopper’ and ‘tinthepark.com’.

Prosecutor Chris McKenna: “There are further significant messages relating to what is assessed to be criminality such as images of white blocks.

“These are potentially cocaine with different logos embossed as well as large sums of money and tick lists.”

The court heard there were also “detailed instructions” given to Collin by a contact on how to package cash and where to drop it off.

A purpose built secret compartment was also found in the van where items could be stashed.

A flat in Anniesland linked to Collin was then raided.

Police found large consignments of heroin, cocaine, cash and substances used to bulk out drugs there and in the van.

Other related equipment including a hydraulic press was also seized.

The heroin was valued at £820,500 with the cocaine at £505,580.

The court heard Collin had earlier been hit with “financial difficulties” after a back injury affected his work as a lift engineer.

Frances Connor, defending, said: “His father is a successful businessman, but he was too embarrassed to approach him for help.

“He does accept the foolishness of that.”

Collin was also hit with a three-year Serious Crime Prevention Order designed to tackle and monitor criminals on their release from jail.

Glasgow Times | News