French Bulldog’s Photo Leads to Capture of Would-Be Killers
In a twist worthy of a Hollywood thriller, a French Bulldog played an unexpected role in the capture of two would-be killers who were plotting a revenge murder with a James Bond-style gun.
This real-life drama unfolded when Frankie Sinclair from Cardiff and a middleman named Paul Fontaine, hailing from north London, attempted to orchestrate a sinister crime. Little did they know that their encrypted communication would be their undoing, thanks to a photograph of Sinclair’s pet French Bulldog.
The Murderous Plot
The sinister plan began with Sinclair’s intention to purchase a £3,000 Walther PPK handgun from Fontaine. Their aim? To eliminate a rival gang member. However, their secret discussions occurred on an encrypted phone network that had fallen under the scrutiny of the National Crime Agency (NCA). This operation would become a part of the UK’s most extensive organized crime probe, Operation Venetic.
The Unlikely Key: A French Bulldog
As the criminals conducted their covert conversations, Sinclair made an unwitting mistake by sending a picture of his living room, featuring his adorable French Bulldog. Little did he know that this seemingly innocent photograph would play a pivotal role in his capture. Investigators, working diligently to expose their identities, would later utilize this photograph as evidence.
The Old Bailey heard how Fontaine had not only supplied a 9mm Makarov self-loading pistol for a previous murder but was also involved in providing the Walther PPK to Sinclair, a notorious criminal. In their encrypted messages, Sinclair even referred to the gun as a “James Bond ting.” Both Fontaine and Sinclair, despite their meticulous efforts to conceal their identities, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and a series of other offenses.
Operation Venetic, led by the NCA, has achieved significant success in cracking down on criminal activity. More than 3,147 suspects have been arrested, with 1,240 offenders convicted as part of this investigation. The operation has led to the seizure of over nine tonnes of cocaine and heroin and the removal of 173 firearms from the streets. The EncroChat mobile phone network, with its 60,000 users, mostly criminals, including 10,000 in the UK, was infiltrated by French and Dutch police in 2020.
A Watershed Moment
Commander Paul Brogden, head of Specialist Crime, described Operation Venetic as “the most complex investigation ever launched” by the police into organized crime. This operation has unveiled a previously unknown world of criminality, revealing plots to commit murder, traffic drugs, launder money, and sell firearms. The individuals involved often led extravagant lives, residing in multi-million-pound properties and driving high-end vehicles.
The capture of these would-be killers, thanks in part to a photograph of a French Bulldog, serves as a testament to law enforcement’s dedication in the relentless pursuit of justice.