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Convicted Cambridgeshire drug dealer up the creek without a boat

Ben Cunningham stored cocaine with a potential street value of £470,000 on his boat at Huntingdon

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His freedom – he’s been jailed for 8 years – is not the only thing Ben Cunningham has lost. A court ordered the sale of his boat where he stored blocks of high purity cocaine with a street value of nearly half a million pounds.

Cunningham, 49, of Wyton Moorings, Banks End, Huntingdon, was found to be a key cog within a criminal network in the Cambridgeshire area, buying, and selling drugs on a commercial scale.

Now the boat he had moored at Wyton whilst he “lived a lavish lifestyle, frequently dining out and staying in expensive hotels” is to be sold at auction after a Proceeds of Crime hearing last week.

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The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) found that he had used the San Periel boat, which was moored on the River Great Ouse, to store the cocaine.

Police searching the vessel after arresting Cunningham found cocaine with a potential street value of £470,000, along with more than £13,000 in cash and cannabis worth £7,000.

Detectives established that Cunningham was a local link to an organised crime group (OCG) which moved and sold cocaine across the UK.

Ben Cunningham, 49, of Wyton Moorings, Banks End, with drugs and cash found in police raid on his Huntingdon boat.

Ben Cunningham, 49, of Wyton Moorings, Banks End, with drugs and cash found in police raid on his Huntingdon boat.

Two other members of the network were also jailed for a combined 24 years.

Following Cunningham’s conviction, specialist financial investigators from ERSOU’s economic crime unit began enquiries to establish how much he had earned through the criminality, identifying he had made £249,456.98 through illegal means.

At a Cambridge Crown Court hearing last Thursday, Cunningham was ordered to repay an initial £36,514.60 – the value of the money and assets he currently has available – or face additional time behind bars.

Enquiries will continue in the future, should he come in to more money that could also be repaid.

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Financial investigation manager Jemima Cholmondeley-Smith, from ERSOU, said: “After it was proven that Cunningham was involved in a criminal network buying and selling drugs on a commercial scale, it was important that we took steps to take back the money he’d made illicitly.

“Our specialist investigators then built a picture of the huge sums Cunningham was making, finding that he was living a lavish lifestyle, frequently dining out and staying in expensive hotels.

“He paid no regard to the damage being caused within our communities through the drugs he was profiting from.

Ben Cunningham, 49, of Wyton Moorings, Banks End, with drugs and cash found in police raid on his Huntingdon boat.

Ben Cunningham, 49, of Wyton Moorings, Banks End, had drugs and cash stores on his Huntingdon boat.

“Using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation, we’ll continue to pursue the finances and assets of those profiting through activity such as drug dealing.”

Cunningham was arrested in March 2022 by ERSOU detectives whilst aboard the San Periel boat.

Tracy Wicks, 49, of Bunyan Road, Kempston, Bedfordshire, was also aboard the San Periel when officers raided the boat, with detectives finding scales and more cocaine within a parcel addressed to her.

Officers established that Cunningham and Wicks had also been staying at The Old Bridge Hotel, near to their mooring, spending more than £900 on accommodation and food.

Cunningham was charged and subsequently pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine and cannabis, and possession of criminal property.

Wicks was previously handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine.

 

 

 

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