A DRUG dealer who admitted dealing cannabis has been ordered to pay back more than £34,000.

Dealer James Hegarty was told to pay back £34,100, deemed to be the proceeds of his criminal earnings, within 28 days or face a nine-month prison sentence.

The court heard officers from the South Operation Raptor team raided Hegarty’s home in Devonshire Road, Laindon on March 29 2018.

They searched the house and found a shoe box containing £4,000 in cash, a drug dealing "tick list" with the names of customers and amounts of money they owed was also discovered, 126g of cannabis, a machete and a baseball bat.

The officers also seized 376g of Tetrahydrocannabinol cannabis paste, which is the illegal high-inducing chemical component of the drug. The total street value of the drugs was £2,500.

Hegarty was arrested, charged and pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of a Class B drug and acquiring criminal property.

He was given an 18-month jail term suspended for 18-months.

Basildon Crown Court heard Hegarty was convicted and sentenced in October 2019 after admitting two counts of possession with intent to supply a Class B drug.

Following his conviction an application was made under the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize money made as a result of Hegarty’s drug dealing.

Hegarty had more than £23,000 in unexplained credits to his bank accounts as well as a total of £8,250 that was seized from his home by police.

The court ordered the seizure of a total of £34,100 from Hegarty and he has 28 days to pay over the money.

Following the POCA hearing, investigating officer PC Andrew Heard of the South Operation Raptor team, said: “It was clear from both the money and cannabis found at Hegarty’s home that he was running a significant drug dealing operation.

“Not only did Operation Raptor raid his home, arrest him, charge him and put him before the courts but we also made it our business to seized the money he has made from peddling drugs.

“Our pursuit of drug dealers doesn’t just end when they are sentenced at court, we will continue to seize the assets they have gained or bought from their illegal activity – crime really doesn’t pay in Essex.”

Essex Police set up Operation Raptor teams in the North, South and West of the county to tackle drug and gang-related crime.

If you have information about drug or gang-related crime in your community contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The POCA hearing took place at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday February 27.