A DRUGS gang involving two men from Kendal has been told to repay £40,000 within three months or spend longer in jail.
Luke Anthony Babester, 39, of Milnthorpe Road, Kendal, was recently given a 12-year sentence for supplying drugs while accomplice Stephen James Neill, 32, of Castle View, got five years.
Now a Proceeds of Crime hearing has ordered the two defendants and others involved in the gang to hand over the sum.
The matter was held before His Honour Judge John Batty QC at Carlisle Crown Court.
Police said the gang’s ringleader was Babester and that he was one of the main suppliers of cocaine in Kendal and the surrounding areas.
The court heard how Babester benefited to the tune of more than £320,000 and he was ordered to pay back nearly £19,300 of his realisable assets.
Det Con Nick Doherty the financial investigator dealing with the case, said: “This was a complex case because of the way in which the gang tried to use a legitimate business to cover up their criminal activity.
“The businesses were set up as cover for the offenders’ criminality in effect to distance themselves from their offending and make their new found wealth legitimate.
"This resulted in meticulous examination of numerous business and personal bank accounts.
“Once the ring leader, Babester, became established in the drugs market, he began to portray the image of a wealthy businessman.
"He purchased expensive cars, motorbikes, designer watch and diamond rings all from monies he made from his drugs supplying. After conviction, he was stripped of these possessions, which are all now just a memory.
“The general public will see a clear difference between the benefit and the realisable figure. The reasons for this are drug dealers will continually reinvest their ill-gotten gains in the purchase of more drugs.
"In reality this means their profit is often tied up until they can realise it."
“Also in this case and more importantly, Babester and the gang used substantial monies in the setting up of legitimate businesses in Kendal one of which was the Kendal MOT & Service Centre with a view to them acting as fronts to later launder his criminal monies through.”
Police said Stephen Neill made nearly £240,000 from his involvement and must repay his entire realisable assets, which are just £500.
They said Neill was then working as the manager of the Kendal MOT & service centre at the time of the offences.
Other defendant Clint Tinsley, 34, of St Helens, was ordered to repay nearly £2,000 after benefiting by almost £22,500 from his role.
In total, eight defendants were sentenced to a total jail term of 49 years, four months.