£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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee