Police in Crewkerne have warned that drugs will not be tolerated in the town after a dealer was ordered to pay back more than £16,000 of criminal gains.
Luke Gibbs, 25, will face prison if he does not pay back what police believe were the profits of his illicit activities.
After the confiscation order was made at Taunton Crown Court, Inspector Jackie Gold, head of south Somerset neighbourhood policing, said: “This is a classic example of someone who has chosen to live in the Crewkerne area and partake in drug dealing and is now paying the price for it.”
Gibbs was originally in court last year after police officers stopped and searched a vehicle he was driving, containing two passengers, on December 31, 2010.
Officers found a package hidden under the driver’s seat which contained more than a kilo of ketamine, a class C drug, with a street value of more than £20,000.
Further searches were carried out and £4,000 was found at the home of one the passengers, which Gibbs claimed belonged to him.
Last May, Gibbs was charged with possessing ketamine with intent to supply and in October he pleaded guilty to the charges.
He was sentenced to 51 weeks in prison, suspended for 24 months, in November. He was also ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work.
On Thursday , Judge Jones ruled that Gibbs had benefited from crime to the value of £38,898.00 and made a confiscation order for £16,606.13, representing all his assets.
If Gibbs does not pay up, he faces a default sentence of 12 months in prison and will still owe the amount outstanding.
Inspector Gold added: “Crewkerne is a low-crime area and generally a safe place, but like any other town around the country, it’s got crime and we monitor crime trends very carefully. Part of my job is to keep Crewkerne as low in terms of crime as possible and keep it safe.
“I hope this case will send out a stark warning. Drug dealing has a major impact on local communities like Crewkerne, it drives up crime such as burglary and car thefts because people need to fund their habits.
“Any drug dealing we deem to be serious business. We take a very dim view of it and personally I pull out all the stops to curtail any drug-dealing activities.”
Dr Kirstie Cogram, the manager of Avon and Somerset financial investigation unit, said: “We are committed to seizing all assets that criminals have gained as a result of crime.
“It is not acceptable that criminals benefit from illegal activities and we will relentlessly pursue them through the courts to ensure their money is taken. By doing this we show criminals that they will not benefit from crime and deter others from entering a life of crime.”
Ketamine is a drug commonly used in human and veterinary medicine as a general anaesthetic. It has become widely available on the drug market and like many other narcotics it can produce undesirable side effects such as panic attacks, depression and injuries as a result of reduced sensitivity of pain.
High doses can dangerously suppress breathing and heart functions and can lead to unconsciousness. There have been numerous deaths throughout the UK linked to the use of ketamine. It is currently a class C drug, but police say it is likely to be reclassified to a higher grading this year.
Police say one in seven people know someone living off the proceeds of crime.
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Ketamine drug dealer ordered to pay back £16,000 of criminal gains.