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Police recover tens of thousands in criminal assets
DURHAM Constabulary has recovered assets worth almost half a million pounds from criminals in the last financial year.
The force launched 'Operation Sledgehammer' three years ago to herald a major crackdown on those tempted by a life of organised crime.
Since then a string of initiatives has led to dozens of major criminals being sent to prison, with many of them being subjected to subsequent action under 'POCA' – the Proceeds of Crime Act.
A total of £421,391 was recovered from criminals in the last financial year and it looks set to increase in the coming year with orders worth £358,034 granted since the beginning of April 2013.
The money is collected centrally and then allocated by the Home Office to various criminal justice agencies The latest seizures under 'Sledgehammer' have seen a number of vehicles disposed of at auction.
This includes the seizure of three cars which were all recovered during a lengthy police investigation into drugs offences and money-laundering. Det Chief Insp Victoria Fuller, head of specialist crime operations for Durham Constabulary said the proceeds of crime application came on the back of a long-running investigation.
She said: "The offenders were part of a group of criminals known to be involved in the large-scale supply of cocaine and cannabis, and associated money laundering offences from the proceeds of their criminal activity."
Further seizures under POCA include a BMW 320 saloon and a Ford Focus hatchback that were both forfeited following the dismantling of an organised cannabis growing operation in Darlington.
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