A man responsible for money laundering and drugs offences in Winsford has been jailed for more than six years.
Shane Preece, 43, was sentenced to six years and nine months at Chester Crown Court on Thursday 20 January after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
His wife, Carla Preece, 32, pleaded guilty to money laundering offences and was handed a 20-day rehabilitation order while Jamie Green, 28, was handed an 18 month suspended sentence for two counts of possession with intent to supply class B and possession of criminal property under Proceeds of Crime Act.
The court heard how Preece lived at a property in Dart Walk, which was the centre of the drug dealing operation. He lived a lavish lifestyle, well beyond his means, despite being unemployed and claiming benefits throughout.
Green, of Dee Way, spent time living in a caravan at the back of the Dart Walk address, dealing drugs on behalf of Preece.
Following information from the local community, officers executed a warrant at the house and caravan on Thursday 22 October 2020.
Police discovered a quantity of cannabis, bottles containing THC cannabis extract along with £7,700 in cash and mobile phones.
Weapons such as machetes, an axe and baseball bats were also discovered at entry and exit points of the Dart Walk home.
CCTV at the address was seized and despite only being installed six days before, 204 people were captured attending the caravan and property to purchase Class A and B drugs. Preece had even filmed himself supplying cannabis directly to customers and on some occasions, in the presence of children.
All three were arrested and subsequently under investigation pending further enquiries.
As police continued with their case, further intelligence suggested that Green had continued to supply cannabis from a caravan elsewhere in Winsford. A second search warrant was executed on the caravan in November 2020, following which a further quantity of cannabis and cash were recovered. Green was once again arrested, and work was undertaken with the local authority to ensure the caravan was removed.
Financial checks were completed on the Preece bank accounts which found staggering amounts of money was being deposited.
On 16 June 2021, officers conducted further search warrants at both the Dart Walk address and a second property belonging to Shane Preece in Crewe. Police were also armed with the power to seize goods under the Proceeds of Crime Act, with officers seizing items of significant value including several televisions, games consoles, numerous items of jewellery and designer clothing, and even the family sofa.
During the search, large bundles of cash stuffed in designer handbags and a hidden floor safe were uncovered.
All three were re-arrested and charged in connection with money laundering and drug offences.
Detective Constable Mark Sherratt, who led the investigation, said: “A lavish lifestyle funded by crime is definitely not worth going to prison for – crime does not pay.
“A dedicated team of officers at Northwich worked tirelessly to bring Shane Preece’s illegal operation to an end and we know that the activity had caused much misery to local residents.
“It is thanks to the community who spoke out against the activity that we have been able to dismantle this criminal network and Preece is facing the consequences of his actions.
“We will not stop pursuing those who think they can get away with bringing illegal drugs into our communities.”
Superintendent Gary Smith, who was in charge of policing at Northwich LPU at the time, said: “This sentencing would not be possible if it was not for the public providing us with information about Shane Preece.
“Preece has brought misery to the town and residents had to put up with his completely unacceptable behaviour and illegal enterprise.
“I hope this sends a clear message to anyone involved in organised crime, Cheshire is a hostile environment for criminals. We will not stop pursuing those causing misery to our communities.
“If you have any concerns about criminal activity in your local area, please get in touch with Cheshire Police and we will do the rest.”