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Winsford drug dealer ordered to pay back £390,000 of ill-gotten gains

A Winsford drug dealer who was convicted following an investigation into drugs and money laundering offences in Winsford has had confiscation orders totalling over £390,000 made against him by the courts.

At the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing, a judge agreed that Shane, aged 43, had benefited from his crimes to the sum of £390,000 - the hearing also found that his wife Carla, 32, had also benefited from her crimes to the sum of £40,000.

Available assets of more than £70,000 have already been identified in relation to the pair and they have been ordered to pay that amount immediately− however, the pair will owe the remaining sum to the courts for the rest of their lives until they can repay the full amount.

The pair were originally convicted as part of Operation Fedora in January this year following warrants at an address on Dart Walk, Winsford in October 2020, November 2020 and finally on 16 June 2021 when the pair were subsequently charged for their roles in the criminal operation.

Shane pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, two counts of possession with intent to supply Class B and two counts of transferring criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was handed a six year and nine months imprisonment.

Carla pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act and was handed a 20-day rehabilitation order.

Detective Inspector Kelly-Ann Cain from Cheshire Constabulary′s Economic Crime Unit, said: "The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 allows us to recoup a criminal′s benefit from crime via Confiscation Orders issued by the courts. 

“In cases such as Shane and Carla Preece, this legislation allows us to put a value not only on the crime that they have been convicted of but on the entirety of their income and assets held over several years.

"The Confiscation Order remains payable until it is settled in full and while they may not have assets to that value and cannot pay the order in full at this time, rest assured, we will ensure that every effort is made to recover every penny and paid back to society, no matter how long that takes.

"By doing this, we are ensuring that criminals do not get to enjoy any profit from crime once they have served their sentence. 

“We are ensuring that they cannot use their ill-gotten gains to further their illegal enterprises and keep the communities of Cheshire safe.”

Operation Fedora was the police response to information received from the local community into drug activity in the town.

A warrant was first executed at the property in Dart Walk and a caravan nearby in 2020 with cash and drugs being recovered.

Financial checks were also completed on the Preece bank accounts which found staggering amounts of money being deposited.

In 2021, further search warrants at both the Dart Walk address and a second property belonging to Shane Preece in Crewe.

Police were also armed with the power to seize goods under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with officers seizing items of significant value including several televisions, games consoles, numerous items of jewellery and designer clothing, and even the family sofa.

Large bundles of cash stuffed in designer handbags and a hidden floor safe were also uncovered.

Superintendent Gary Smith, who had oversight of the investigation, said: "Shane Preece profited from his criminal exploits while causing many residents of Winsford to suffer as a result.

“There is no doubt that information from the local community assisted us in putting Preece behind bars for his crimes. 

"This latest result obtained by our Financial Investigation Unit demonstrates the lengths we can go to in order to target those who have heavily profited from illegal activity. 

"To secure this result, our Financial Investigation Unit can also conduct updated financial checks on people and, if further assets or the means to pay is identified in the future, then they will be taken back to court.

“If you’re involved in any drug related activity then you run the risk of not only being jailed but also having to pay back any cash that you may have benefited from as a result.

"The message is clear; crime really does not pay here in Cheshire.”

Anyone with information about drug related activity in their community is urged to report it via the Cheshire Police website or through Crimestoppers.

Pictured - Shane Preece.

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