Gang duo ordered to pay back £200k after drug factory bust
Two gang members have been ordered to pay back more than £200,000 after police linked their lavish lifestyles to drugs factories found in Wolverhampton.
Stephen Straker and Reece Bentley, both from Bushbury, have already seen officers seize goods, including a sports car, jewellery and designer trainers, worth £35,000 from their homes.
Now a court has ordered that the pair must also pay back a further £171,581 from their ill-gotten gains.
When officers arrested Straker and Bentley over two cannabis factories found in Bushbury Lane, they soon realised the pair were living way beyond their means – finding wads of cash, high-end watches and designer gear at their homes.
Straker, who at the time was living in Columbia Crescent, had also been enjoying foreign holidays – days before his arrest in June 2016 he had returned from the Euro 2016 football tournament in France.
Their arrests came after officers raided two addresses in Bushbury Lane in May 2016 and discovered 59 cannabis plants, scales and drugs paraphernalia as well as signs of cocaine and heroin production.
Forensics and witness evidence linked Straker, aged 29, and Bentley, aged 28, of Carisbrooke Road, to operating the drugs factories.
Straker was sentenced in September 2018 to a total of four years and three months for producing cannabis and supplying heroin and cocaine.
He was also convicted on two counts of dangerous driving, failing to stop after a collision, aggravated vehicle taking and resisting arrest after he was caught by officers dealing heroin and crack cocaine in Low Hill in March 2017 and taking a vehicle without consent in May 2015 in Cannock, Staffordshire.
Bentley admitted producing cannabis and was sentenced to 24 months, suspended for 24 months.
It was found that the pair had amassed a considerable fortune from their criminal activities.
Police seized an Audi RS5 sports car, dozens of pairs of designer trainers, watches including a Rolex and a Cartier, bundles of cash and evidence of Straker enjoying foreign holidays.
Wolverhampton Crown Court ruled that Straker had amassed a criminal benefit of more than £135,000 and Bentley, £71,092.
Taking into account the goods already seized worth £29,999 from Straker and £5,000 from Bentley, the court last week ordered Straker pay back a further £105,489 and Bentley, £66,092 under a confiscation order.
Inspector Stephanie Furber from Wolverhampton Police, said: “Both men are known members of a crime group operating in the Bushbury and Low Hill areas.
“They had made substantial profits from this criminality which causes misery to the local community.
“We are pleased that following a successful investigation, we can once again highlight to members of the public and those involved in criminality that crime doesn’t pay.”
Straker and Bentley must both repay the money within three months or face imprisonment for three months and the outstanding amounts on both orders will remain recoverable, should further assets become available in the future.
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