Pay back £100k in three months or get more jail

‘FAM­ILY AF­FAIR’ DRUG GANG GIVEN UL­TI­MA­TUM BY JUDGE

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By PAUL BRIT­TON

MEM­BERS of a drugs gang jailed after po­lice smashed a huge cannabis con­spir­acy have been or­dered to col­lec­tively pay back more than £100,000 within three months - or face fur­ther time in prison.

Five men and two women were sen­tenced last De­cem­ber after cannabis farms were seized in Sal­ford, Black­ley and Hey­wood.

A judge sit­ting at Manch­ester Crown Court set a sum of money they ben­e­fited from dur­ing a Pro­ceeds of Crime Act hear­ing.

Po­lice said the drugs en­ter­prise was mas­ter­minded by Ryan Rat­cliffe and Ben Hard­ing, who or­ches­trated it from their prison cells in North­ern Ire­land.

Both were serv­ing three-year sen­tences at HMP Mag­illi­gan for their in­volve­ment in a plot to smug­gle cannabis and co­caine into the coun­try from Manch­ester at the time of the con­spir­acy.

A court heard that while in prison, they re­cruited fam­ily mem­bers - in­clud­ing their own mother and aunt - to help them con­tinue the op­er­a­tion.

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor An­drew Buck­thorpe, of GMP’s city of Manch­ester di­vi­sion, said: “The de­ci­sion at Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing comes as a re­sult of months of hard work by of­fi­cers and fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tors, ded­i­cated to mak­ing these of­fend­ers pay for the gloom their drug busi­nesses in­flicted on law-abid­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic.

“I hope this serves as a de­ter­rent to those peo­ple who wish to pur­sue this il­licit line of work.”

The gang, clock­wise from top left, Ryan Rat­cliffe, Ben Hard­ing, Stephen Rat­cliffe, Marie Rat­cliffe, Amanda McCurdy, Joshua Wil­liams, Ben Pick­les

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