Four jailed after police recover drugs with street value of £400,000

A judge told the men they had decidied to take a 'calculated risk'.

Four jailed after police recover drugs with street value of £400,000 SNS Group
The four men appeared before the High Court in Edinburgh.

Four men have been jailed for a total of 15 years after a police operation targeting serious organised crime in Central Scotland recovered drugs with a street value of £400,000 and over £250,000 in cash.

Lee Jack, 40, and Scott Hollingworth, 41, were each imprisoned for four-and-a-half years after admitting trafficking in cocaine and cannabis.

Stuart Lee, 35, was jailed for three years after he took possession of £255,710 of ‘dirty money’.

And Barry Watson, 39, was also jailed for three years for being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

Both pled guilty to the offences.

A judge told the four at the High Court in Edinburgh that each of them had reasonably good work records and family commitments.

But Lord Woolman said: “Each of you chose to become involved in illegal activity. You decided to take a calculated risk.”

The judge said that in late 2019, police believed a serious organised crime group was trafficking controlled drugs in Central Scotland.

They launched a surveillance operation dubbed Operation Fortitude against potential targets.

On September 12 that year, Lee was seen meeting a man in Union Road, Camelon, in Stirlingshire, who approached his Range Rover with a carrier bag.

The pair drove off in convoy to a car park opposite a nearby golf club and officers watched as a box was transferred from the boot of the Range Rover to the other man’s car.

Lee was detained by police at a garage on Glasgow Road in Camelon and stated “whatever is in the car belongs to me”.

After the recovery of cash from the vehicle, Lee, of Leeds in Yorkshire admitted an offence under proceeds of crime legislation of acquiring and possessing criminal property of £255,710.

A week later, Jack and electrician Hollingworth, of Stalybridge, in Cheshire, were seen meeting in West Calder, in West Lothian, and a bag was placed in the boot of Jack’s car.

Jack was detained by police as he returned home to Woodmuir Place, in Breich, in West Calder, and admitted there was “stuff” in the boot with cocaine and cannabis being recovered.

A smaller amount of cocaine worth about £35,000 was found when Watson’s car and address in Grangemouth, in Stirlingshire, were searched.

A further 15 kilos of benzocaine, commonly used to adulterate cocaine, was also recovered from an outhouse,  

Defence solicitor advocate Graeme Brown, for Lee, said that the father of two was put under pressure when he became involved in the offence.

Drew Mckenzie, counsel for Hollingworth, said he was offered money to deliver a package and had no experience of drugs.

Thomas Ross QC, for Jack, said the offence was committed against a background of addiction to cocaine but Jack has since abstained.

Defence solicitor advocate Ewen Roy, for Watson, said his role was to hold drugs at his house and deliver for another.

He said: “He admitted becoming involved in this for payment during a period of financial difficulty.”