06/06/2003

Scots drugs haul gang sentenced to 58 years

Four Scots were jailed today for a total of 58 years after Customs officials intercepted one of the biggest ever hauls of cocaine in the UK.

Customs officers uncovered half a tonne of the Class A drug - with an estimated street value of £25 million - hidden in bales of rubber at Felixstowe prior to shipment to Grangemouth.

Customs then mounted a major surveillance operation with the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, replacing the drugs and tracking the consignment to the west of Scotland.

The four men were found guilty by majority verdict at Glasgow High Court on May 16 and were sentenced today at Edinburgh High Court.

James Mair, 38, of Cumnock, and William Cairn Grant, 38, of Bothwell, were each sentenced to 18 years in prison. David Howitt Frew, 55, of Kilwinning, received a 12-year jail term, while Sean Collins McAdam, 36, of Kilwinning, was sentenced to 10 years.

A fifth man, William Simpson McAdam, 40, of Kilwinning was found not guilty by a unanimous verdict.

Customs' Head of Investigation Scotland Pete McGee said: "This case should act as a strong deterrent to anyone tempted to get involved with drug smuggling.

"It shows the determination of Customs officers across the UK to use advanced detection methods and targeted resources to tackle international trafficking.

"The seizure of over £25 million worth of cocaine shows how Customs, together with the SDEA and other agencies across the UK, are able to work in partnership to take dangerous drugs off the streets of Scotland. We will now vigorously pursue the confiscation of assets of those convicted."

The drugs arrived at the port of Felixstowe on a container ship, the 'Magleby Maersk' en route from Panama to Grangemouth. Three freight containers from the ship with a consignment of bales of rubber were X-rayed. Of the 507 bales, 125 were suspect and on closer examination these were found to contain a white substance later identified as cocaine.

The drugs were removed by Customs officers in Felixstowe and were replaced with a dummy load. The consignment was released to continue its journey from Felixstowe to Grangemouth where it was transported by road to a storage facility in Stepps, Glasgow. It remained there for eight days under constant observation by Customs staff.

On the October 1 2002, two pallets from the consignment of rubber were tracked by Customs officers as they were transferred to an industrial unit in Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

At the premises in Kilwinning, the suspects started to break up the consignment and at that point Customs "knocked" both the Kilwinning and Stepps sites and arrests were made.

(GMcG)

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