Evening Telegraph (First Edition)

Drug-dealing gran raked in thousands as death toll of addicts rose

- BY DALE HASLAM

MORAG Yorston picked the wrong time to become a major drug dealer.

In 2016, 62 people died due to drugs in Tayside – and that jumped to 94 in 2017.

Dundee became known as the drugs capital of Europe – a tagline that brought shame on the city and its proud residents and hardworkin­g police and health staff.

Detectives launched two initiative­s to clamp down on hard drugs – Operation Fundamenta­l and Operation Boost. As police operations ramped up, officers honed in on Yorston and her gang.

During that period, police estimate Yorston was responsibl­e for bringing heroin and cocaine to Tayside worth many millions of pounds.

DCI Scott Fotheringh­am said: “When we first started getting intelligen­ce about Yorston, she was living in a local authority housing developmen­t in (the Stobswell area of) Dundee.

“By the time we were concluding, she had moved into quite an exclusive area up the West End.”

Detective Sergeant Ewan Murray, who was the deputy senior investigat­ion officer in the Yorston case, said: “Yorston had private registrati­on plates and enjoyed foreign holidays, though there was nothing overly extravagan­t. I suppose the key to her success was she lived a relatively normal and below-the-radar life.”

Yorston’s downfall began in July 2018 when policed pulled over her known associate Ronnie Wilson’s vehicle to search it.

DS Murray told us: “The police search recovered about 70 grams of heroin and 30 grams of cocaine.”

The heroin was worth £7,000.

A search of Wilson’s home on Tweed Crescent in Menzieshil­l followed. Police found 3.3kg of heroin and more than 300 grams of cocaine. The heroin was worth £200,000.

Wilson, 56, was arrested. Police studied his phone, which proved to be a treasure trove of evidence, with texts indicating he assisted with the storage of drugs for Yorston from September 2017.

Police interviewe­d suspects to help create a who’s who map of the Dundee drugs scene.

One person who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity said: “Someone close to me was a witness (against Yorston). It was really difficult for me and my family.

“We knew things about Yorston and weren’t involved high up with her. We thought she was just dealing small amounts to help friends – £10 deals, not £100,000 deals.

“When you’re told the scale of it, you want to help police knowing the damage she has done, but at the same time there’s a fear someone she knows will hurt you or someone you love.”

Some of Yorston’s footsoldie­rs who turned against her were offered housing, addiction support, benefit assistance and counsellin­g – and police continued to study their mobile phones to get evidence Yorston was at the top of the tree.

Everything pointed to Yorston, who went by the name of “Mo” or “Maggie” in text chats with her band of dealers and customers.

With the aid of intelligen­ce gained from earlier arrests in the first half of 2017, police were keeping a close eye on the movements of Yorston and her right-hand men.

On August 10 2018, police learned Liverpool drugs courier Mark Gardner, 59, had driven from Merseyside up the M6 and was headed for Dundee.

Detectives on the case were a step ahead – and had the property put under surveillan­ce before the courier arrived. Gardner was intercepte­d and arrested at Lockerbie.

Police moved quickly, raiding the Balunie Drive address. They found £200,000 worth of heroin and clear evidence of Yorston’s drug dealing and her position as head of the organisati­on.

Despite having appeared in court and being bailed, Yorston carried on texting her Liverpool associates, perhaps knowing they would still expect payment despite the heroin seizure.

Those back-and-forth discussion­s added to the pile of evidence mounting against her.

Police raided more properties in October 2018 and said the drugs linked to Yorston seized over four months were worth £340,000.

She was facing jail, her former allies turned on her but Yorston didn’t seem concerned.

She was still in a relationsh­ip with Bulgarian national Daniel Nenchev – the man, 18 years her junior, who was arrested with her at the Balunie Drive address.

Nenchev was charged with a drugs offence but a not-guilty plea was accepted in court. He has now told us he had no knowledge of the scale of Yorston’s offending.

The couple tied the knot at Dundee Registrars on May 1 2019 with Yorston describing her occupation on the marriage certificat­e as “parcels sales manager”.

 ??  ?? MARK GARDNER
GRANT McRITCHIE 51,
59,
RONNIE WILSON
MARK GARDNER GRANT McRITCHIE 51, 59, RONNIE WILSON

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