A seven-man drugs gang who dealt in more than £3 million pounds of drugs across Scotland has been sent to prison for a total of 50 years.
Stephen Nisbet, who operated his drugs empire from his prison cell in Edinburgh. was sentenced to a further 12 years imprisonment and his brother James received a 10 year sentence. Five other gang members were also sentenced at High Court in Glasgow.
John McMahon was sentenced to seven years, 10 months imprisonment, David Milne to four years and Robert Borland, Ronald Harrison and Allan Holland were each sentenced to five years imprisonment
In addition, Proceeds of Crime actions have been initiated against James Nisbet and Ronald Harrison.
The convictions were the result of a secret seven-month long operation by Police Scotland, Operation Lapstone, which saw another 66 people arrested during the dismantling of what police describe as a: “major and established crime group”.
The operation was led by the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit (OOCTU) and started in June 2013, when a meeting was held between John McMahon and another man in a car at an ice rink at Camperdown Park, Dundee. Police stopped the car and found 500g of heroin, £10,000 in cash in the glove compartment and two mobile phones.
Two months later, when Stephen Nisbet’s prison cell was searched, a mobile phone provided the link between him and McMahon, who was continuing to deal drugs. That gave investigators the opportunity to build up a clearer picture of the operations of the gang.
Members of the gang were seen regularly at the Platinum Waste Solutions recycling premises in Shotts, and watched travelling around Scotland with drugs and cash.
On one occasion police followed McMahon to Buckhaven, where he was stopped but tried to escape by reversing into police cars blocking his path and then speeding off on the wrong side of the road.
He seen throwing a package from the vehicle, shortly before driving into a tree near East Weymss Cemetery and fleeing on foot. A mobile phone was recovered from the scene and he was traced and arrested three days later.
The package he had thrown from his car was found to contain 500g of heroin, and a search of his property uncovered items related to the sale of drugs.
Other police interceptions took place near Kirkcaldy, Camperdown Retail Park in Dundee, Shotts, Beith in Ayrshire, and on the A90 at Kinfauns.
Police took around £1.1 million of drugs off the streets and Detective Chief Inspector Colin Boyle from the OOCTU commented: “Serious organised criminals undermine the efforts of those that are trying to make an honest living. Nisbet, along with others, ran a drug empire throughout Scotland. Operation Lapstone did not just disrupt this empire – it dismantled it.
“As an organisation we are committed tackling the sale and supply of drugs in our community and this continues to be a top priority for Police Scotland.”
And DCI Boyle pledged: “We will not tolerate this type of anti-social behaviour and we will continue to hold those who peddle drugs in our community to account and bring them to justice.”
Lindsey Miller, Procurator Fiscal for Organised Crime and Counter-Terrorism, revealed: “The accused kept on attempting to deal heroin even as their couriers and associates were being arrested, even as their drugs were being seized, while all the time investigators were building a stronger case against them.
“The combination of painstaking mobile analysis and seven months of surveillance clearly showed the nature of the drug dealing family business run by the Nisbet brothers, with Stephen Nisbet directing the drug dealing using mobile phones from inside Edinburgh Prison, and his brother James Nisbet ensuring the distribution of the drugs across Scotland from his premises at Platinum Waste Solutions, Shotts.
“Today’s sentences act as a warning to criminals in Scotland that police and prosecutors are determined to bring them to justice, and Proceeds of Crime actions have now been initiated against two accused to reclaim their illegal profits.”