Dealers involved in drugs ring forced to pay back £375k in criminal funds

Wesley Wells-Burr was jailed at Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday 9 August Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Five men who were part of a gang that sold drugs in Somerset have been spared jail as their ringleader was sent to prison.

Some of the group have now been ordered to pay back more than £375k in cash and assets after being convicted of being involved in the supply of illegal drugs.

Ringleader Wesley Wells-Burr was jailed for three years and seven months during a hearing at Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday 9 August. He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis.

Four other men were also sentenced for their involvement in the scheme.

  • Jay Macquarrie: The 30-year-old, from Taunton, admitted conspiracy to supply cannabis. He received an 18-month suspended sentence with a requirement for 180 hours of unpaid work.

  • Michael Swanston: The 57-year-old, from Taunton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cannabis. He received an 16-month suspended sentence with a requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.

  • Phillip Barnes. The 51-year-old, from Taunton, admitted conspiracy to produce cannabis. He was given a 10-month suspended sentence with the requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.

  • Bradley Bishop: The 28-year-old, of Stoke St Mary, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce cannabis. He was sentenced to a two-year community order with requirement for 150 hours of unpaid work.

  • Jeanette Pezare. The 65-year-old, 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 were also handed out for Wells-Burr, Macquarrie, Swanston and Barnes. A confiscation order hearing for Pezare is expected to be held at a later date.

Avon and Somerset Police say their enquiries began back in May 2017, when they discovered a man carrying a significant amount of cannabis during a missing person search.

Police discovered a link between the man and Wells-Burr, and a warrant was sent to investigate an address in Churchstanton.

As the investigation continued, two other sites belonging to Wells-Burr were searched and officers seized thousands of pounds of cannabis, cash and a firearm.

Speaking after the hearing, manager of Avon and Somerset Police's complex crime unit Dr Kirstie Cogram 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.”


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