Restau­rant boss snared in sting was ‘small player in drug chain’

Court: Ac­cused jailed for 20 months

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - News - BY JAMIE MCKEN­ZIE

An In­ver­ness restau­rant man­ager who fled to Spain af­ter be­ing snared in a po­lice drugs sting has been jailed for 20 months.

Marek Sam­czuk pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted be­ing con­cerned in the sup­ply of just over one kilo of co­caine, worth about £51,000 on the street. The class A nar­cotic was of 50% pu­rity, around four times what is nor­mally sold in the High­lands.

But fol­low­ing his bail re­lease, Sam­czuk fled to Spain where it is be­lieved he worked as a body­guard for the rich.

The 42- year- old had spent al­most 19 months on the Costa del Sol be­fore he was brought back to the coun­try in Septem­ber last year on a Euro­pean ar­rest war­rant af­ter miss­ing a court date in Fe­bru­ary 2015. Sam­czuk’s de­fence so­lic­i­tor, Gra­ham Mann, told Sher­iff Fleet­wood that his client was merely a small player in a big­ger sup­ply chain.

MrMann also re­ferred to an­other man caught in the sting, An­drei Balauta, who had been sen­tenced to 18 months af­ter ad­mit­ting the offence three years ago.

Yes­ter­day at In­ver­ness Sher­iff Court, Sam­czuk ap­peared in hand­cuffs be­fore Sher­iff Gor­don Fleet­wood, who said: “Given what I’ve been told aboutMr Balauta my hands are to some ex­tent tied. Idis­agree withMr Mann, you andMr Balauta are equally heav­ily in­volved.”

Sam­czuk first ap­peared at In­ver­ness Sher­iff Court on pe­ti­tion on De­cem­ber 9, 2013, and was granted bail.

Fis­cal de­pute Michelle Mol­ley pre­vi­ously told the court that po­lice had re­ceived in­tel­li­gence that couri­ers were trav­el­ling to In­ver­ness by bus to de­liver drugs toSam­czuk, for­merly of Far­ra­line Court.

A sur­veil­lance team was set up and of­fi­cers saw the twom­en­meetSam­czuk­be­fore­onere­turned to his flat. The two couri­ers then booked into a guest house in Mid­mills Road where po­lice were watch­ing.

MsMol­ley told the court that one man was seen to dis­pose of a T-shirt, un­der­wear and other items which sug­gested the drugs had been con­cealed in­ter­nally.

She added Sam­czuk was seen to pass the guest house twice be­fore­meet­ing one of the other men out­side. Sam­czuk was de­tained a short time later nearby and was found with twoPringles crisp tubs con­tain­ing white pel­lets and a sil­ver set of scales.

A search war­rant was ob­tained for the guest house room used by the couri­ers and £3,520 in cash and 30 eu­ros was found.

“Given what I’ve been told, my hands are to an ex­tent tied”

JAILED: Marek Sam­czuk ad­mit­ted be­ing con­cerned in the sup­ply of co­caine

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