£40m cocaine gang members jailed

A gang involved in a "high-level international drugs ring" that brought an estimated £40 million of cocaine into Scotland from Spain were jailed today.









Keith Blenkinsop and Lindsay Harkins were the ring-leaders in the operation while Andrew Burns, Robert Dalrymple and James Elvin acted as couriers.



All five men were convicted of being concerned in the supply of cocaine in Scotland, England and Spain between 2007 and 2009 following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last month, the Crown Office said.



Blenkinsop, 43, from Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, was sentenced to 12 years behind bars and Harkins, 44, of Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, was jailed for nine years and 341 days at the High Court in Edinburgh.



Stuart Cassidy, interim district procurator fiscal for Dumfries, said: "This case involved a high-level international drugs ring which used couriers to traffic an estimated £40 million in cocaine from Spain to Scotland.



"The drugs - cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis - were destined for the streets of Glasgow but some were also distributed in the Dumfries area.



"Drug trafficking at this level is of the utmost seriousness and the damage it does to our young people and Scotland's communities cannot be underestimated.



"The Crown will continue to vigorously prosecute drug dealers and will use every power available to disrupt their criminal enterprises and seize their assets."



In 2004 Blenkinsop was also sentenced to four years in prison in Spain following a conviction for drug dealing.



In sentencing comments released following the hearing, judge Lord Doherty told Blenkinsop: "You have been convicted of being concerned in the supplying of cocaine between January 29 2007 and June 19 2009.



"It is clear on the evidence that you were one of the principals in a major cocaine distribution operation which involved cocaine being purchased in Spain, brought back to Scotland, adulterated here using mixing agents and industrial presses, and then being sold on.



"Large quantities of money raised in the drug distribution operation was exchanged into euro for onward transfer to Spain. Others operated to your instructions. Cocaine was purchased regularly in Spain in quantities of 2kg at a time.



"Those who play leading roles in drug distribution operations involving class A drugs must expect to be dealt with severely by the courts."



Blenkinsop was also convicted of being involved in the supply of cannabis resin and amphetamines while Harkins was found guilty of supplying amphetamines.



Dalrymple, who is 43 and from Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway, was sentenced to six years and 357 days imprisonment after being convicted of being involved in the drugs operation as a courier in 2009.



Elvin, 35, from Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, was sentenced to five years and 351 days after also being convicted of being a courier.



He brought back two kilograms of cocaine from Spain on April 30 2009 and was about to travel back the following day with more than 37,000 euros (£31,000) in cash hidden in his bag when he was caught.



Burns, who is 56 and from Helensburgh, was handed a sentence of seven years and 349 days after he was convicted of being concerned in the supplying of cocaine between January 29 2007 and March 17 2009.

PA

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