Paisley Daily Express
Drug courier locked up
An Elderslie lorry driver has been jailed for five years for his part in an operation to flood the streets of Scotland with almost £3.5million of cocaine.
Drug courier Robert Stewart, 54, was snared by police as he tried to smuggle 65kgs of the Class A powder into the country in an HGV.
Stewart, also known as Robert Gifford, was int intercepted by police at Ha Hamilton Services, in La Lanarkshire, on May 28 last yea year.
He was tailed by officers fro from the Kensington area of London, where he had be been seen putting two ca cases into the lorry.
The sting came during O Operation Venetic, the most significant ever UK operation into serious a and organised crime involving Police Scotland, the National Crime Agency and police forces across the UK.
It resulted in the takedown of Encrochat, an encrypted global communication service used almost exclusively by criminals.
Detectives uncovered cases containing bricks of drugs marked‘Prada’, indicating they had a high purity level.
Stewart, from Thornhill Avenue, had earlier admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine.
He was yesterday sentenced to five years in jail at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Police Scotland and the Crown Office welcomed the sentence and said officers will continue to target dealers and traffickers.
Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Houston, Police Scotland’s head of organised crime, said:“Keeping our communities safe and free from the nefarious activities of organised criminals remains an absolute priority for Police Scotland and I welcome the conviction and sentencing of Clifford.
“Officers work tirelessly to disrupt these activities and the intelligence-led operations, undertaken with our policing and law enforcement partners, led to some of the largest seizures of drugs made in Scotland. We continue to work closely with our UK and European law enforcement partners, underlining our determination to target those involved.”
Jennifer Harrower, procurator fiscal for specialist casework, added: “Drugs do great harm to communities across Scotland and with each case of this kind we can help reduce that harm.
“It is thanks to intelligence that we were able to stop these drugs from reaching Scotland’s streets, and this kind of operation is invaluable to us as prosecutors working with our partners.
“We will continue to work as a key part of the Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce to protect those communities.”