Eastbourne drugs suppliers jailed after covert police operation

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TWO Eastbourne men today began jail sentences after being convicted of drugs and money laundering offences in Sussex.

Gary Smith, 44, of Bramley Road in Polegate, and Peter Burton, 26, of Exceat Close, Eastbourne, were sentenced at Hove Crown Court today along with a third person, Amanda Cameron, 44, from Priory Close, Denham, Buckinghamshire.

Cameron had previously pleaded guilty to two offences of possessing criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), and to conspiracy to supply class A drugs.

Smith and Peter Burton had previously pleaded guilty to possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

Cameron was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, Smith was jailed for four years, and Burton to two and a half years in prison.

Cameron had been subject of a covert investigation by Sussex Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit into the wholesale distribution of class A drugs in East Sussex.

On 14 occasions between July and September 2011, she was seen making successive journeys in her cream coloured Mini for clandestine meetings in car parks. At these meetings, various people got into her car for just moments before returning to their own vehicles and leaving the area.

According to police on September 22 last year, Cameron she drove into the Tesco car park in Lewes, with a woman passenger with blonde hair. Cameron went into Tesco and bought some items before returning to the Mini.

At almost the same time, a white Vauxhall Movano truck drove into the car park, driven by Gary Smith with Peter Burton his passenger. Burton left the truck for a few moments and then got back in. The Vauxhall was later stopped by Sussex Road Policing Unit officers just outside Ringmer. In the truck police found 328 grammes of cocaine wrapped in layers of packaging inside a Lipsy Boutique bag. Both men were arrested.

The investigation continued and on January 17 this year Cameron was stopped by Warwickshire Police whilst travelling south on the M40 in a Honda Civic. In the boot was a bag containing £120,000. A search of her address in Buckinghamshire found £300,000 cash, all of which was seized by police. She had two mobile phones with her on her arrest, and at her home were three very cheap Samsung mobile phones.

Detective Chief Inspector Ali Eaton said; “This was a lengthy and involved intelligence-led investigation, in which innovative action and fast-time communication with Warwickshire Police resulted in these three convictions, disrupting an organised crime gang providing cocaine to local dealers across Sussex.

“Our work to take the profit out of crime continues and the cash seized from these criminals will be ploughed back into the fight against drugs and also into the wider community to support local projects.

“The result sends another message that we will consistently target such activities - if you get involved in drug dealing we will come after you.

“The cash seized under POCA has been subject of a court-authorised Forfeiture Order and will be ploughed back to support further financial investigations and also into the wider community through worthwhile local projects.

The money is now confiscated by the court and goes to the central Government exchequer, but 50 per cent of it then comes back to law enforcement. Of that 50 per cent, one third goes to the Crown Prosecution Service, one third to HM Courts System and one third to police.

The money that comes back to Sussex Police is used to help support the work of the force’s financial investigators, to fund searches on national commercial and statutory databases, for example the Land Registry and Companies House, and as donations to local Sussex-based crime reduction and diversion projects.