Drug smugglers will have to repay £250k

Peter Bowden
Peter Bowden
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Six members of a Fylde coast gang responsible for smuggling drugs worth £2.5m into the country have been ordered to repay more than £250,000.

The men – who were jailed last year for their roles in importing cocaine, mephedrone, amphetamine and cannabis into the UK – made more than £2m in the process, a court heard.

They were each ordered to repay amounts ranging from £1,907.80 to £90,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

However, detectives said the men, who were among 22 people arrested following a complex three-year investigation, would not be let off the hook for the rest of the cash they earned illegally.

Det Chief Insp Graham Gallagher, of Lancashire’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “We have taken whatever we can get from them, as much as we can recover.

“But any income they come into possession of, if they can’t legitimately explain where it has come from, we take it off them.”

During the investigation – codenamed Sabine – detectives uncovered a sophisticated criminal enterprise to import drugs from China and Holland and distribute them across the North West.

They also found two drugs labs full of specialised equipment at industrial units on Back Ashburton Road, North Shore, and Leamington Road, in the town centre.

Peter Bowden, 44, of The Glades, Lytham, had his 15-year jail term slashed to nine-and-a-half years back in August. He has now been found to have made £700,000 from the racket. He was ordered to repay £59,414.40.

Craig Rooks, 47, of Division Lane, Marton, was told to pay back £58,741 of the £354,000 he made illegally. His 10-year jail term was reduced to eight-and-a-half years at an earlier hearing.

Sair Hamza, 52, of Devonshire Road, Blackpool, was ordered to repay all of the £90,000 he made. He was last year jailed for three years and seven months.

Aaron Pitts, 37, of Colwyn Avenue, Blackpool, will have to repay £1,907.80. His jail term was also cut this year, from five years and eight months to three years and nine months.

James Harding, 23, of Ulton, in Hampshire, and Mark McDonald, 31, of Prenton, Birkenhead, were also part of the gang. They were ordered to repay £46,802.76 and £2,825 respectively.

Bowden and Harding, along with a seventh gang member, Gordon Waters, 46, of Clifton Drive, Blackpool, were also subjected to a Serious Crime Prevention Order, which comes into force on their release from prison.

Det Chief Insp Gallagher said: “Where the threat is higher, we apply for these orders. There are only a handful of them in Lancashire.”