Hampshire police has secured its largest ever criminal benefit payout after a convicted drug dealer was ordered pay more than £2m to the force.

Imtiaz Ali, 46, was told he would have to pay Hampshire Constabulary £2.3m within the next six months, or face another eight years behind bars.

Ali, from Kenley, Surrey, was found guilty of importing cannabis worth more than £350,000, following a trial at Winchester Crown Court in August 2009.

He was senetenced to eight years in prison.

Ali's crimes were uncovered by Hampshire detectives in October 23 2008, after a crate containing almost 120kg of cannabis was intercepted as it left fellow defendant Peter Humphrey's business premises, in Alton.

Humphrey, from Petersfield, was arrested the following day by officers from Hampshire Constabulary's Serious and Organised Crime Unit.

Further investigation revealed that the crates, which were marked up as 'marine parts', were being shipped in from a bogus company in Holland.

Humphrey received 43 of the crates in total, between March 1 and October 28, 2008.

Ali and another man, Steven Berger, of Essex, were jailed for their role in importing the drugs.

Now the drug trafficker has been ordered to pay back £2.3m, after police financial investigators provided evidence to suggest that Ali would have made the mammoth sum during six years of criminal activity.

Speaking at the confiscation hearing at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Bowes ordered Ali to pay back the entire amount by July, or have his jail sentence doubled.

The total includes cash payments to a business account, eight properties in the UK and Dubai and a diamond-encrusted Franck Muller watch.

Detective Inspector Dave Brown, from Hampshire Constabulary's Financial Investigation Unit, said: “This result is the largest confiscation order Hampshire has achieved.

“It has been the product of the hard work put in by the financial investigators in uncovering all the nice benefits Ali had happily surrounded himself with as a result of his criminal activities.

“Our message is simple, you may have been found guilty of a crime and received your punishment but that isn't where we will stop.

“If we suspect that you have been benefiting from your criminal activity we will come after that too. Crime should never pay.”