ONE of Hartlepool’s biggest drugs gangs who raked in more than £700,000 will pay back a paltry £2,096 of their ill-gotten gains.
And four of the five members will hand over just £1 after telling a court l Turn to Page 5
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they have blown more than £140,000 each.
The gang – made up of Craig Wilson, Adam Wilson, Lee McDonough, David Hall and James Murphy – had enjoyed lavish lifestyles, including driving flash cars worth £50,000 and racking up hotel bills of more than £1,000 during wild weekends in Newcastle.
But at a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing in Teesside Crown Court yesterday they told Judge George Moorhouse their illegal fortunes had all been frittered away.
Former Hoda 26 taxi boss Craig Wilson, who was described as the ringleader, was ordered to pay back £2,092 after police discovered he still had some cash stashed away.
The five men had been jailed for a total of 26 years after admitting conspiracy to supply cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine in April last year.
Police have now vowed to keep a close eye on the group when they are released and will try to claw back any money they make in the future.
Acting Detective Sergeant Andrew Hill, of Cleveland Police’s economic crime unit, said: “Regardless of the fact that it appears to be only a small amount of money, we would still actively target the outstanding balance should their circumstances change.
“As a result, we would appeal to the public to contact police with any information about people appearing to have more assets than their lifestyle dictates.”
The Mail reported last year how police smashed the “sophisticated” drugs network at two houses in Hutton Avenue, Hartlepool, at the end of 2011. It had been operating between March 7 and September 7 of that year.
Craig Wilson, 38, from Relton Way, was given six years and eight months behind bars. He had been arrested outside a plush home in Relton Way, in the affluent West Park area of Hartlepool, where he had a £50,000 Audi A7 car on his drive.
He had turned to supplying class A and B drugs after his business ventures ran into trouble and he saw it as a “quick fix” to solve his money problem.
Lee McDonough, 34, of Gibson Grove, David Hall, 45, of Hutton Avenue, and Adam Wilson, 26, of Lynmouth Walk, all Hartlepool, were all sentenced to five years in jail.
David Murphy, 23, of Stanhope Drive, Liverpool, was given a prison term of four years and six months.
All were said to have become involved due to debts.
Police had come across their large cannabis farm in Hutton Avenue by accident when they were called out to people running across roofs.
Detectives soon unravelled the operation by going back through phone records as all five men were frequently in touch and had met on a few occasions at the luxurious Malmaison Hotel, in Newcastle, where they ran up huge tabs.
Prosecutor Harry Hadfield said each of the men had made profits of £143,442 from selling drugs but, apart from Craig Wilson, none had any money left.
He added that police have seized the £2,092 from Craig Wilson.
Anyone with information about illegal drug activity can ring Hartlepool’s drugs unit’s 24-hour confidential hotline on (01642) 302181.