Hartlepool drugs gang who blew almost £1m of ‘earnings’ will pay back just a fraction

JAILED: Alan Forcer
JAILED: Alan Forcer

A DRUGS gang who “earned” over £1m has been ordered to pay back just a fraction after blowing the rest.

The cocaine ring members, including Hartlepool men Alan Forcer, Lee Ryan and Robert Elsdon, were jailed for 24 years in December last year.

The trio, along with Liverpool courier Mark Devine, 48, were back in the dock as prosecutors fought to strip them of their ill-gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Teesside Crown Court heard between them the criminals made just over £1m from bringing cocaine into Hartlepool for onward supply.

But the gang only had seizable assets totalling £52,463.

Drugs storeman Elsdon, 44, of Chesterton Road, Hartlepool, who benefitted by £260,608, did not have any and was ordered to pay a nominal £1.

The court previously heard how ringleader Forcer, 34, of Southbrooke Avenue, Hartlepool, splashed out thousands on designer clothes, fancy watches and expensive hotel stays, while claiming working tax credits.

When he was arrested police discovered four designer watches with a combined value of £12,375 and numerous high value items of designer clothing.

Forcer benefitted the most out of the operation by £345,160.

He was ordered to pay back £43,700 within the next six months or face another 18 months in jail.

Ryan, 30, of Calder Grove, Hartlepool, who was also said to be at the top of the network, made £293,000, but can only afford to pay back £3,623.

He and Forcer were jailed for seven years and four months each.

The gang had been under police surveillance in the Rift House area when Forcer, Ryan and Elsdon took delivery of a 1kg block of high purity cocaine on August 8 last year.

They had paid £40,000 for the drugs which had a street value of 685,248.

It had been delivered by courier Devine, of Walmer Road, Liverpool, who along with Elsdon, was later jailed for five years.

Police found a second kilo of cocaine with a street worth of £702,960, was in the van Devine was driving.

It did not belong to the Hartlepool gang.

Cash of £45,000 was also found in the footwell of the van but no-one has claimed it so it will be the focus of a separate proceeds of crime hearing.

Police say despite the relatively small amount of cash seized the full debt remains with the defendants for the rest of their lives.

Barry Dixon, of Cleveland Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “We can revisit the case and have done in the past.

“The outstanding amount never disappears so if any of them were to come into money in the future, we are in our rights to revisit the amount still owed.”

Anyone with suspicions about drug dealing should contact their local police teams or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.