Two borough men were caught using an encrypted communications network to deal drugs as part of their major roles in a criminal gang.

Stephen Sharples and Nathaniel Conteh used EncroChat to deal drugs over a four-month period in 2020.

The network, which has been cracked by police, was a tool used by mainly those involved in organised crime to maintain the security of their businesses and dealings.

Sharples, 52, of Coventry Road, Radcliffe, and Conteh, 43, of Douglas Close, Whitefield, used code names on the devices to talk to other users between March and June 2020.

Manchester Crown Court heard Sharples shared messages and pictures to other handles of luxury watches including a Rolex and a Breitling, which were recovered when police searched his address.

Sharples hid £100,000 across three different stash places and was due to receive another £30,000 soon.

Conteh was found to be discussing prices of cocaine in kilos and stated he could get around £44,000 per kilo in March 2020 and messages showed him discussing prices for heroin and cocaine with another EncroChat user.

One conversation discovered he was discussing collecting 10 kilograms of cocaine from London.

Conversations were found on both Sharples and Conteh’s devices discussing cannabis, heroin and cocaine buying and selling.

The court heard both men played significant roles in the criminal operation.

Defending Conteh, David James told the court Conteh is “dedicated to his family and is finding it hard to reconcile and accepts he made a catastrophic decision”.

He fell into drug dealing after his business flooded and he found himself in debt.

Meanwhile, a psychiatric report found Sharples stated suffers from depression and a custodial sentence will have an impact on him and his mental health.

Defending Sharples, Hugh Barton, he described him as a devoted, family man and expressed his remorse in a letter to the court.

Judge Nicholas Dean said about both that they are “loyal, loving family men who both regret their involvement in the conspiracies”.

He added that they are family men who let their families down and both willingly engaged in trading Class A drugs.

Speaking to Conteh, Judge Dean said: “You put down the origins of dealing to the problems in your business caused by a flood and then getting into debt which was enforced.

“Dealing drugs became an alternative form of business and a profitable form of business.”

Judge Dean added that he accepts both men feel genuine regret and remorse for their actions.

He said: “This was persistent activity over a lengthy period of time and involved in the dealing of Class A and B drugs.”

Conteh pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis, conspiracy to supply heroin and possession with intent to supply cannabis.

Sharples pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, conspiracy to supply cannabis and conspiracy to supply amphetamine.

Judge Dean sentenced both men to 10 years, of which they will serve half in prison and the rest on licence.