Two men sentenced for their roles in a Newhaven drugs dealing conspiracy are to be stripped of some of their illegal profits, say police.
Luca Wright, 27, of Cricketfield Road, Seaford, and Christopher Charles Bywaters, 31, of The Nurseries, Lewes, appeared at Hove Crown Court on May 21 and were given confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following an investigation by expert police financial investigators.
A police spokesman said: “Wright was found to have benefited by £154,208.43 and his currently available amount of £8,940 was ordered to be confiscated, to be paid within three months or he will serve a further sentence of five months, and will still have to pay.
“Bywaters was found to have benefited from his crime by £52,603.97 and his currently available amount of £749.92 was ordered to confiscated, to be paid within 28 days or he will serve a further sentence of seven days, and will still have to pay.
“The pair had been sentenced following a lengthy and detailed police investigation - Operation Anglia - into drugs offences in the Newhaven area.”
Wright and Bywaters had been sentenced in November 2018 having pleaded guilty.
Wright was given 20 months for producing the class B drug cannabis at a property in South Way, Newhaven, and jailed for a further 20 months for possession of the drug with intent to supply - a total of three years and four months’ imprisonment, said police.
Bywaters was jailed for 17 months for the production of cannabis and a further six months for breaching a previous two-year prison sentence - a total of 23 months imprisonment, said police.
A spokesman said: “A sophisticated commercial-scale cannabis grow was found in South Way, Newhaven, and almost half a kilo of cannabis was found at Wright’s former home in Rosemary Close, Peacehaven.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Richardson of the Sussex Police Economic Crime Unit said: “The court found that both men had benefited by amounts greater than those they are currently required to repay. However we keep records of all existing confiscation orders where the full benefit amount isn’t immediately available and regularly check on them to identify any additional assets which have been obtained since the original order was made.
“We then apply to the court for an increase in the original order. We can also request the assistance of the specialist South East Regional Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team, part of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), who will contact the offenders and help identify more assets.
“Meanwhile, even orders such as those just granted still send the important message that we will always go after criminal assets even beyond conviction, to try to return them lawful and useful purposes.
“Funds seized by the courts through POCA confiscation or cash forfeiture orders go to the central Government exchequer. However a proportion of this is returned to law enforcement. Similar amounts go the CPS and the court system.
“POCA-derived funding that returns to this force is distributed equally between the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable. Sussex Police receive 50% cash back from cash forfeitures and 18.75% cash back from confiscation orders such as these.
“We fund Financial Investigators and Financial Intelligence Officers from part of these amounts to help continue our valuable work in seizing criminal assets, with the remainder being used to support local community crime reduction and diversion projects.”