Crime boss who banked £2.3 million through drug dealing gang has funds seized by court

The jailed ringleader of a drugs gang which traded in cocaine and ecstasy has been back before a court as police claw back the proceeds of his crime.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 11:09 am

Now he has appeared before Teesside Crown Court to face a Proceeds of Crime Application, where a judge ruled his criminal activities earned him £2.3 million.

He was ordered to pay back £203,151.09, which is what his current assets – two houses, and a quantity of cash recovered, and money saved in a bank account - are valued at.

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Andrew Blake was said to be the ringleader of the drug trading gang.

Blake must return the money within the next three months or face the prospect of his jail term being extended by another two years, while police have pledged to keep a watch on his finances and make further applications if his assets increase.

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The 43-year-old, previously of Regent Court, was identified as the leading player of a 17-strong gang, with its members all convicted for their part in a conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.

As he and his associates were jailed, the court was told Blake was a “major recipient of cocaine” and received around 15 kilos of the drug over an 18-month period.

Police identified individuals who visited his address and took amounts of the drug to be sold to an existing network of customers, frequently advertised through text messages.

More than 40 detectives were involved in a lengthy surveillance operation to bring down the gang, leading to seizures of drugs and more than £100,000 in cash.

Operation Sidra, run by Durham Constabulary from 2014, was a long-running police operation to crack down on dealing across the county, using information from those living in the communities affected.

The Proceeds of Crime Application was part of Operation Sentinel, the police’s North East fight against serious organised crime.

Detective Sergeant Thomas Maughan, of the North-East Regional Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are happy with the outcome, however, make no mistake, if Blake’s assets increase further, we will make a further application to recoup that money.

“This order shows that in addition to prosecuting those who believe they are above the law we will also pursue them to deprive them of their criminal gains.”

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