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Members of organised crime gang orders to pay back almost £1.5 million by the courts

November 26, 2012, 4:03 pm

Members of an organised crime gang have been ordered to pay back almost £1.5 million by the courts.

The gang from Warrington was jailed for almost 100 years for conspiracy to supply and distribute Class A drugs across the North West.

Two separate Proceeds of Crime hearings have now taken place as part of the investigation − one took place at Chester Crown Court last week and the other took place at Warrington Crown Court in July.

During those hearings a judge granted confiscation orders after deciding that 6 of the defendants convicted as part of Operation Cortex had benefited from their crimes to the sum of almost £1.5 million.

The current available assets of those 6 defendants were determined at the value of almost £10,000 and they were ordered to pay that amount immediately.

But the work of detectives does not end there and if further assets are identified in relation to any of the 6 defendants then these can also be confiscated by the courts.

DC Paul Cottrell, of Cheshire Police′s Financial Investigation Unit, said:

It is important to remember that our work does not end once the POCA hearing is over. Once the Confiscation Order has been made this means that the defendants will owe that sum of money to the courts for the rest of their lives until they can repay the full amount.

We can conduct updated financial checks on people and if assets or the means to pay off the confiscation orders is identified in the future then the defendants can be taken back to court and ordered to repay the money. Until they repay the full amount of their individual benefit figure the confiscation orders will hang over them.

These POCA hearings should serve as a warning to others that crime really does not pay. The message is clear – if you involve yourself in illegal drugs then you run the risk of not only going to prison, but also having to pay back any money that you may have benefited from as a result of your crime.

DC Paul Cottrell, Financial Investigation Unit

As part of the investigation into Operation Cortex £20,910 in cash was also found in a safe at a property. No-one has ever come forward to claim the cash. However, the person who was storing the cash in the safe on behalf of the criminal gang, was convicted of money laundering.

DCI Kev Bennett, who led the investigation into Operation Cortex, said:

The Proceeds of Crime Act gives police the ability to seize cash over £1,000 from any person if they have grounds to believe the money has come from criminal activity or is going to be used in criminal activity.

This money was found in a safe during our investigation into Operation Cortex. The cash was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act but over the months no-one has come forward to claim it. The person who was storing the cash in the safe on behalf of the criminal gang, was convicted of money laundering.

Anyone found to be in possession of criminal assets, or concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal assets from the UK, on behalf of any criminal gang, will be arrested for money laundering. The maximum penalty for this offence on conviction is 14 years imprisonment.

We hope this case serves as a warning to those who believe they can profit from crime and live way beyond their means on a daily basis – renting expensive property, hiring cars and taking luxury holidays – that it is only a matter of time before you will end up paying the price for your actions.

DCI Kev Bennett, Force Crime Operations

Anyone with any information in relation to money laundering is urged to contact DC Paul Cottrell by calling 101. Information can also be passed on anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.


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