Two Eastbourne men involved in a £12.5 million conspiracy to supply heroin have been forced to repay tens of thousands of pounds of their ill-gotten gains.
Arthur Jones, of Downs Avenue, and Paul Shannon, of North Street, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply the Class A drug and both were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Now Jones, 56, has been found to have benefitted by £10,685, and has been ordered to repay the same amount.
While Shannon, 61, was found to have benefitted by £21,755.06 and was ordered to repay available assets of £277.94, said Sussex Police.
They were part of a drug dealing group sentenced to a total of 67 years for their involvement in a £12.5million conspiracy to supply heroin from Liverpool to Brighton and Eastbourne.
Sussex Police say Confiscation and Forfeiture Orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) were made against 12 people at Hove Crown Court on several dates concluding on August 3, following a detailed investigation of their assets by expert financial investigators from Sussex Police.
According to Sussex Police, also ordered to pay back money to legitimate society were:
• Lea Smith, 47, of Natal Road, Brighton, found guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin and jailed for 25 years. He has now been found to have benefited by £12,329,40 and was ordered to repay available assets of £35,219.60.
• Jon-Paul Swann, 34, of Colin Drive, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to 15 years. He has now been found to have benefited by £12,023,62 and was ordered to repay an available nominal amount of £1.
• Julie Coltherd, 45, of Langley Crescent, Brighton, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. She has now been found to have benefited by £51,000 and was ordered to repay available assets of £45,000.
• Neil Ballard, 49, of Hangleton Road, Hove, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to seven years. He has now been found to have benefited by £32,055 and was ordered to repay available assets of £3,900.
• Linda Wynn, 53, of Tobacco Wharf, Liverpool, was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, having pleaded guilty to money laundering. She has now been found to have benefited by £79,800 and was ordered to repay available assets of the same amount. She was given three months to pay and will serve a further two years if she fails to do so – and will still have to pay.
• Louis Makai, 47, of Langridge Drive, Portslade, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply heroin and was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. He has now been found to have benefited by £500,000 and was ordered to repay £101.20.
Police say the orders for Smith, Swann, Shannon, Ballard and Makai have already been complied with, as they were paid from assets already seized by police during the investigation.
£4,975 cash seized by officers from a 51-year-old man during the investigation has now been ordered to be forfeited, said Sussex Police. The man was not charged with any criminal offences.
Kingsley Walls, 46, of Langley Crescent, Brighton, Lee Mack, 52, of Sheepcote Valley Caravan Park, Brighton and Andrew Antoniou, 60, of Dorset Mews, Brighton, who all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin, have all died of natural causes prior to sentencing.
£14,549.71 cash seized from Walls by police during the investigation has now been ordered to be forfeited.
£1,450 cash seized from Antoniou by police during the investigation has now been ordered to be forfeited.
£1,140 cash seized from Mack by police during the investigation has now been ordered to be forfeited. Under the Police Property Act, two items seized from Mack during the investigation have also been ordered to be forfeited – a caravan valued at £4,836.60, and a Rolex watch valued at £7,029.14.
The amounts in the Confiscation and Forfeiture Orders total £208,965.19.
The original investigation had resulted from a nine-month covert investigation into an organised crime network, supplying heroin from Liverpool to Brighton, Hove and Eastbourne.
Detectives from the Community Investigation Team in Brighton led a series of drugs raids in March 2015 resulting in 19 arrests and the seizure of £45,875 cash. Search warrants were carried out at nine addresses in Brighton, one in Eastbourne and one in Liverpool.
During these searches, which involved more than 100 police officers and staff, six kilos of heroin mixed with cutting agent were found and seized, with an estimated street value of £600,000.
During the investigation, Sussex Police say the mastermind behind the operation – 49-year-old Thomas Wynn from Liverpool – failed to answer police bail. His body was later found in Dubai. There were no suspicious circumstances.
Detective Inspector Julie Wakeford said, “Funds seized by the courts through POCA confiscation or cash forfeiture orders go to the central Government exchequer. However a proportion of this is returned to law enforcement. Similar amounts go the CPS and the court system
“POCA-derived funding that return to this force is distributed equally between the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable. Sussex Police receive 50% cash back from cash forfeitures and 18.75% cash back from confiscation orders such as these.
“We fund Financial Investigators and Financial Intelligence Officers from part of these amounts to help continue our valuable work in seizing criminal assets, with the remainder being used to support local community crime reduction and diversion projects.
“In some cases, like this one, the amounts accessible at the point of seizure, and thus available for confiscation or forfeiture, can be less than the amounts we estimate the criminals have benefited from. But it still sends the important message that we will always go after criminal assets even beyond conviction, to try to transfer them to lawful and useful purposes.
“And in addition, the Proceeds of Crime Act allows us to look again at their accounts and other financial arrangements, and if further assets are identified we can apply to the courts for those to also be confiscated up to the value of the benefit figure.”
For sources of support on drug problems see the Sussex Police website.