Two drug barons caught in the largest drug seizure in the history of West Midlands Police have been ordered to pay back £1million.
Keith Jeremy, 43, of Whitehouse Common Road, Sutton Coldfield, and Martin Askew, 38, of no fixed address, were given six months to pay the sum sought under the Proceeds of Crime Act or face a further five years in jail. The pair are two of the UK’s major suppliers of cocaine and were in a multi-million-pound ring in the Black Country.
In making the order at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said: “I have no hesitation in concluding Jeremy and Askew were major figures in this conspiracy. By major figures I mean they were central and authoritative figures. The conspiracy concerned cocaine worth probably many millions.”
Rejecting claims on their behalf drugs had been sent to them without payment, he said he believed they would have made “substantial” contributions in their purchase, and he believed Askew had hidden assets.
Andrew Lockhart, prosecuting, said the Crown believed both defendants had money “elsewhere” they had not told the court about. He said Askew had connections abroad and it was likely he had secreted cash in Spain. Mr Lockhart also said Jeremy was a man “awash with cash” and lived in an opulent property, beautifully furnished.
He said he had another property and before being arrested was intending to buy a third while he “ran” three women around the city.
DCI Mark Griffiths, of West Midlands Police, paid tribute to the officers involved and vowed to track Jeremy and Askew’s overseas assets. “We believe the money is hidden overseas, mostly in Spain,” he said. “The investigation never stops but we have no information as to where the money is. This was the largest drug seizure in West Midlands Police history and the drugs could have had a street value of £99million if cut up in the smallest possible quantities. We have a dedicated financial investigation unit to seize criminal assets.”