Four people have been ordered to pay back more than £375,000 in cash and assets after being convicted of being involved in the supply of illegal drugs.
The ringleader of the group, Wesley Wells-Burr, was last week jailed for three years and seven months after police discovered cannabis factories in Chard and Churchstanton, near Taunton.
Police enquiries into the criminal enterprise began back in May 2017, when during a search for a missing person they encountered Jay Macquarrie with a significant amount of cannabis.
Phone work was carried out and discovered a link between him and Wells-Burr, leading to a warrant being conducted in Chard two months later at an address owned by Wells-Burr and Jeanette Pezare. As the investigation continued, two other sites in Churchstanton were searched belonging to the pair, where officers seized thousands of pounds’ worth of cannabis, cash and a firearm.
Forensics work was carried out and led police to discover a number of other men were involved in the criminal enterprise.
Wesley Wells-Burr, 64 of North Perrott, was jailed at Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday 9 August for 43 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis.
The other people to be sentenced were:
- Jay Macquarrie, 30 of Taunton: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis and received an 18-month suspended sentence with requirement for 180 hours of unpaid work.
- Michael Swanston, 57 of Taunton: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis and received an 16-month suspended sentence with requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.
- Phillip Barnes, 51 of Taunton: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and received a 10-month suspended sentence with requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.
- Bradley Bishop, 28 of Stoke St Mary: Pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis and received two-year community order with requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.
- Jeanette Pezare, 65 of North Perrott: Pleaded guilty to permitting a premises to be used for cannabis production and received a conditional discharge.
Confiscation orders totalling £376,059.32 for Wells-Burr, Macquarrie, Swanston and Barnes have been handed out by the court so far under the Proceeds of Crime Act. A confiscation order hearing for Pezare is expected to be held at a later date.
Dr Kirstie Cogram, manager of the Complex Crime Unit, said: “We are committed to seizing any assets gained as a result of criminal activity.
“It is not acceptable that criminals benefit from illegal activities, and we will relentlessly pursue them through the courts to ensure their proceeds are taken away from them.
“We hope cases such as this shows criminals that they will not be allowed to benefit from crime.”