Thousands in cash seized from drug dealer

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DETECTIVES have recovered more than £100,000 from a man believed to be involved in a drug dealing gang.

The West Midlands man was identified as being part of an organised crime group by Durham police’s specialist crime operations unit and believed to operating between the North East and the Midlands.

They stopped the then 28-year-old in March 2013 as he tried to leave County Durham, with a total of £105,975 in the boot of the Ford Focus he had been driving.

The money was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act as it was thought to be profits from the supply of controlled drugs, or was to be used to commit further crimes by the man or his associates.

The suspect could not legitimately account for the cash found in his possession.

Durham Constabulary’s financial investigation unit applied to Peterlee Magistrates’ Court for the cash to be forfeited under proceeds of crime legislation.

The offender had four weeks to appeal against the order and this time period ran out on Monday.

Police are now completing the process of seizing the money.

While half goes to the Home Office the other 50 per cent stays with Durham Constabulary to be used in the fight against crime and to improve the quality of life for its communities.

Detective Chief Inspector Victoria Fuller, of Durham Constabulary, said: “As part of ‘Sledgehammer’ – our ongoing campaign to hit organised crime where it hurts – we are continually targeting people involved in, or connected to organised crime groups.

“Just like legitimate business, the motivation of organised criminals is often money.

“They try to accumulate substantial assets and wealth from their crimes and we will do everything we can to stop them.

“Our efforts will continue to focus on individuals who negatively affect the quality of life and well-being of our communities.”

Cassie Wilson, a member of the financial investigation team, said: “It is our aim to ‘take the cash out of crime’.

“Where a person or group is identified as having benefited from their criminal actions, a thorough investigation will ensue.

“No stone will be left unturned in order to identify criminal assets of people involved in serious crime in our area.

“Their assets will be seized and they will be prosecuted whenever possible.”

Anyone with information regarding illegal cash or unexplained wealth is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or via their website, www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Callers are not asked to reveal their name or any personal details and their calls are not recorded.

Online reports are given the same levels of anonymity.