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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Warning to Cumbrian criminals after payback order

Police say they will continue to pursue criminals to seize their ill-gotten gains – even when they are behind bars.

John Morris photo
John Morris

Officers made the pledge as a man jailed as part of a massive drugs supply plot busted by Cumbrian detectives was ordered to pay back more than £58,000.

And if John Morris does not pay up within six months he will be jailed for another six months.

A court ruled that he benefited to the tune of more than £8.3m for his crimes.

The 54-year-old was jailed for six years in December after being convicted of conspiracy to import cocaine into the country.

He was part of a gang dubbed the number one target for Cumbria police who tried to bring in the massive haul of Class A drugs from Germany and Holland. The cocaine involved was said to have a street value of £15m.

A judge at Manchester Crown Court ordered the level of cash to be seized from him following a proceeds of crime hearing on Thursday.

Speaking afterwards, Kate Needham, a financial investigator with Cumbria police, said: “We have a team of financial investigators who work hard to uncover how offenders have financially benefited crom crime so that it can be recovered and put back into the community.

“These court proceedings show that criminals pay for their crimes in more ways than one.

“As well as serving time in prison, they can have to pay a significant financial penalty which can strip them of their homes, cars and other assets.

“I hope this deters any potential offenders who may be thinking that a criminal lifestyle can be lucrative.”

“This case shows we don’t stop pursuing criminals when they are behind bars. We make sure we hit them where it hurts – in their lifestyles and wallets.”

Members of the gang involved in the plot pretended to be military servicemen – Sergeants Brodie and Bickerstaff – wanting goods transported back to the UK and hid the drugs in furniture and packing boxes before using legitimate transport companies.

Those lorry drivers were released without charge because they were unaware that their loads contained illegal drugs. Police from Cumbria intercepted a load in Essex in May 2008 and seized 105kg of cocaine destined for the north west.

It was one of the largest drug trafficking operations undertaken by Cumbria police – and one of the biggest in Britain.

Six men - including Morris, of Kirkham, Preston, and a man from Cumbria - were jailed for a total of 110 years for their parts in the crime.

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