Gordon Ruckledge, aged 47, from Ashton-Under-Lyne, has been ordered to pay £396,653.71 within three months after National Crime Agency investigators obtained a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
If Ruckledge fails to pay up he will receive an additional four year prison sentence – and will still owe the money.
This will be added to his current 16 and-a-half years jail time – taking his total imprisonment to 20 years and six months.
Ruckledge’s assets included properties in the UK and Spain, together with money in bank accounts. They were all subject to a restraint order.
He was the joint owner of 11 properties in the UK, including four in Manchester, three in Halifax and one in each of the following locations - Stockport, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Leeds and Consett in County Durham.
He also owned or co-owned two properties in Benalmadena on the Costa del Sol, Spain.
During the confiscation hearing at Leeds Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday 19 December), the judge found that Ruckledge had benefitted from general criminal conduct by £1,619,747.90 and that his available assets were found to total £396,653.71.
Ruckledge was arrested by the NCA at his home in Taunton Road, Ashton-Under-Lyne, in September 2016. He pleaded guilty to 10 drug and money laundering offences in March 2017.
During a search of his house and car, investigators found more than a thousand ecstasy tablets, a kilo of high purity cocaine and approximately two thousand pills labelled as temazepam and tramadol, both class C drugs, as well as around £50,000 and €14,000 in cash.
Officers also recovered dozens of mobile phones and specialist stamps used to add brand logos to tablets.
Peter Frain, NCA senior investigating officer, said:
“The National Crime Agency was successful in the prosecution of Ruckledge two years ago, and that saw him jailed for 16-and-a-half years for bringing substantial amounts of dangerous drugs into the UK.
“If he fails to pay his confiscation order then he will have another four years imprisonment added to his already significant sentence.
“More importantly this sends out a message that not only are we targeting and prosecuting criminals involved in this type of offending, but that when we do find them we have the power to strip assets from them to ensure they don’t benefit financially or materially from their crimes.”
As part of the wider investigation, Ruckledge’s brother-in-law, Christopher Still, aged 71, from Morley in West Yorkshire, was jailed for 12-and-a-half years in June 2015. He admitted playing a key role in the importation of around 90 kilos of MDMA, found by Border Force officers at Killingholme port, hidden amongst pallets of frozen chicken.
NCA officers discovered that the same load of chicken had been used as a cover for at least seven other importations, which had been brokered by Ruckledge in the Netherlands.
After arresting Still, investigators raided a business unit in Leeds registered to Bayrose Trading, a company listed in Ruckledge’s name. They found another 30 kilos of amphetamine and a number of chemical cutting agents.
Meanwhile Dutch police watched Ruckledge meet with drugs supplier Raza Ali in Amsterdam. Ali was later arrested and jailed in the Netherlands, telling investigators that he had been supplying Ruckledge.