SUSPECTS from across East Lancashire have been charged after an international operation revolving around an encrypted chat system used by gangsters.

Thirty-four arrests were made locally, as part of a wider national inquiry, after French officials hacked the notorious Encrochat platform, which drug dealers had been using to keep their movements off the police radar.

Warrants executed across the north west uncovered £1.7m in cash, 15 kilos of cocaine, two kilos each of heroin and cannabis, 70 kilos of amphetamine, 500,000 Ecstasy tablets, six firearms, which included machine guns and over 200 rounds of ammunition, and 10 encrypted mobile phones

And it has now emerged that four local men have been accused of playing a role in the trans-Continental inquiry.

Abdul Ghafar, 44, of Roberts Street, Nelson has been accused of money laundering and supplying class A drugs.

Tony Mendez, 32, of Maden Fold Way, and Jordan Dobbie, 30, of Leigh Park, both Burnley have each been charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drug and money laundering.

And Ian Ogden, 31, of Helmshire Road, Haslingden will face charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs.

Other suspects from across Manchester, Bury, Stockport, Salford and Leigh have also been charged with drugs and firearms offences.

One Manchester man detained, 45-year-old David Walley, has been on the National Crime Agency's most wanted listed since 2014. He has been charged with possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and the importation of Class A drugs. All are expected to appear in court soon.