Xhuljan Shehu, 30, was caught after detectives managed to match up a RightMove ad to pictures of his flat in Whittington Way, Pinner, where he masterminded the importing and distribution of cocaine using encrypted communications platform EncroChat.
NCA officers arrested Shehu at an address in High Street, Uxbridge, on November 24, 2021.
He had used a fraudulent Greek passport to secure the tenancy on the Pinner flat, in an attempt to disguise his drug dealing identity. A bank card in the same name was found in his wallet.
When interviewed, Shehu denied owning an EncroChat phone or having any involvement in drug dealing, instead claiming that he worked in construction and was studying part-time for a degree.
He claimed to have no knowledge of the Pinner flat and said he only lived in Uxbridge.
But detectives found a photo on his phone of an Albanian-language TV programme taken inside the Pinner flat, which also contained other photos of drugs and cash taken inside the same flat.
Property fixtures and fittings from the photos were matched with a Right Move rental advert for the flat.
Detectives trawled through Shehu’s 20,902 EncroChat messages, posted under the name ‘Maidenram’, which revealed he’d had conversations with other handles and sent instructions about checking drug quality and deals.
Shehu also delivered some of the drugs in person and helped to count cash profits.
The terms “loaf, pieces and bread” are mentioned 204, 47 and 23 times respectively in the messages - slang used in drug deals.
He also discussed using his ill-gotten gains to buy property in Albania worth £2 million.
National Crime Agency Branch Commander Matt McMillan said: “There is no doubt that Xhuljan Shehu was involved in every stage of the drug supply chain.
“The crucial evidence my officers painstakingly gathered from his phone was indisputable, and the only option left open to him was to plead guilty.
“The class A drugs trade is inextricably linked to gang violence and real suffering across the UK.
“The NCA works with partners at home and abroad to combat drug trafficking, and we’ll continue to stop people like Xhuljan Shehu in their tracks.”