South Shields man earned £1.57m from cocaine conspriacy - but only has to pay back £4,000
A South Shields man who scored a staggering £1.57million from his involvement in a cocaine conspiracy has been ordered to pay back just £4,000.
Christian Winter was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of conspiracy to supply drugs.
A total of 17 people were convicted after police smashed the organised crime group’s efforts to funnel Class A drugs into County Durham.
Since then officers have been going after the gang’s ill-gotten gains through the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Winter, 50, of Osborne Avenue, benefitted from his criminal activity to a sum of £1,574,060.80, Teesside Crown Court heard.
However prosecutor Richard Herrmann told the court that Winter has just £4,380 available to pay back to the taxpayer.
He added: “Police have all of the [£4,380] cash but it involves going through various bank accounts.”
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Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “He has benefitted from his criminal conduct to the tune of no less than £1,574,060.80.
“The money available is £4,380 and therefore I make a confiscation order in the sum of £4,380.”
During the course of the investigation – codenamed Operation Sidra – police raided properties in South Shields, Sunderland, South Hetton, Easington Lane and New Herrington.
A number of people were arrested and officers seized drugs, hydraulic presses used to press cocaine into bricks and more than £100,000 in cash, police said.
Following convictions earlier this year, Detective Chief Inspector Nicola Lawrence, who led the investigation, said: “Through years of hard work and investigation, and with the support of local people who came forward with vital pieces of information, we have been able to disrupt and destroy this particular network who thought they could get away with blighting their communities through their illicit trade.
“I hope this sends out a clear message that we will not tolerate criminality of this nature in our force area, and we will relentlessly pursue these people and put them before the courts to make our streets safer.”