Four men who were jailed last year for bringing 90kgs of amphetamines into the East Midlands from a ‘drugs lab’ in the Welsh countryside, have been ordered to pay back almost £4 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Officers from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), along with Derbyshire Constabulary, worked together to disrupt the drug supply chain which saw the group order the ‘raw’ drugs in bulk from The Netherlands and mixed it with other chemicals at a rural cottage in Gwynedd in Wales.
After gathering evidence over a number of months, enforcement in December 2018 uncovered the scale of their criminality. On searching a house in Leicestershire, digital devices and cash were seized, before the officers turned their attention to a van in the driveway. Almost 90kg of amphetamine, some of which was hidden in empty crisp boxes, was recovered inside the van.
David Smallman, Keith Harrison, Neil Waring and Robert Richards were swiftly arrested as part of the conspiracy. They all admitted their crimes and were sentenced at Derby Crown Court on 29 November 2019 to a combined total of twenty years in jail.
With the group behind bars, EMSOU’s Financial Investigators turned their attention to their bank accounts and assets.
The Proceeds of Crime Act (or POCA) allows the police to apply for cash to be seized from criminals who have made their money through criminality.
It is typically used after drug dealers have been sentenced and can see criminals forced to sell properties, cars or jewellery that belongs to them to pay off their debt.
The money that is seized is split between the police and the Government and is often used to fund community projects.
On 22 July at Derby Crown Court the following Confiscation Orders were granted. The benefit amount is the overall amount the defendant has deemed to have made through their criminality. The available amount is how much they currently have available to pay off their debt. They typically have three months to pay off the available amount, or face further jail time.
David Smallman, aged 49, from Derby, benefitted from £1,193,474.36 and has £100,200.51 available to pay.
Keith Harrison, aged 66 and also from Derby, benefitted from £923,743.68 and has £2,270 available to pay.
Sixty-year-old Staffordshire man Robert Richards only had the minimum £1 to pay off the £894,033.77 he benefitted from.
On 19 August the final Confiscation Order was granted at Derby Crown Court.
Neil Waring benefitted from £901,257.58. Records show the 43-year-old Derby man currently has £2,320 to pay off his debt.
A fifth man who was given a 21-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to produce Class B drugs and possession of Class B drugs was deemed not to have benefitted from his crimes.
Detective Inspector Tim Walters said: “Getting criminals through the justice system and behind bars is the first half of the job. Our Financial Investigators then get to work, making sure that they don’t have a pile of cash, flash jewellery or fancy cars waiting for them on the outside.
"Even if they only claim to have a small amount of money to pay back in the short term, if a convicted criminal comes into money later in life, even after they get out of prison, we can still apply to have that seized too, so the debt stays with them forever.”