A drug dealer who hid more than £10 million of cannabis within packets of rabbit hay has been forced to give up his house to repay his illegal earnings.
Mark Owens, 59, hid almost a tonne of cannabis beneath packets of rabbit hay which was discovered in the back of a lorry stopped at the Dartford Crossing in Kent.
Pallets containing boxes of rabbit hay were found inside but officers and a sniffer dog quickly uncovered the cannabis stash which had an estimated street value of up to £10.2 million.
Owens, from Clacton in Essex, was jailed for nine-and-a-half-years in September 2018 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply the class B drug.
After his sentencing, a review of Owens’ assets was carried out and he was ordered to pay £386,155 at a confiscation hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday.
Most of the money is from a house he inherited along with some seized cash and money from a bank account.
DCI Patrick Milford, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This case sends a strong message that our work is rarely complete at the point of sentencing.
“Our financial investigators work extremely hard to ensure people who make a living from drugs, modern slavery or any other type of criminality are quite literally made to pay for their misdeeds.”
Paul Seabrook, 54, was jailed for nine years alongside Owens after being convicted of conspiring to supply cannabis.
The crook, formerly from Hornchurch in Essex, was ordered to pay £46 due to having no assets but any assets he inherits from Owens in the future can be confiscated up to a total of more than £2.4 million each.
Both men were jailed for their crimes between November 2015 and May 2016.
At around 9am in May 2016, roads policing officers pulled a lorry over and carried out a search of its container when the driver was unable to provide sufficient information on what he was transporting or any relevant paperwork.
Officers and a sniffer dog uncovered the cannabis stashed in between packets of rabbit hay which had been loaded on top.
Owens was arrested in January 2018 and later admitted to being involved in the plot.
He used a site in Rainham, Essex, which was next door to the intended destination of the lorry, as well as an earlier shipment supposedly containing rabbit hay in April 2016.
It was also proven he had contact with Seabrook around the time of the police discovery. Seabrook was involved in arranging the collection of the shipment in April 2016 and his telephone number was provided by an associate to a lorry driver who was due to make the pick-up.
DCI Milford added: “The Proceeds of Crime Act helps to ensure that criminals such as Mark Owens and Paul Seabrook are not allowed to continue to reap the benefits of their illegal activities once they are eventually released from prison.”