Scots gangster James 'The Don' White 'made £126m from crime'

Crown lawyers are trying to regain what is thought to be the largest sum sought in a proceeds of crime action in Scotland.

Scots Gillespie gangster James ‘The Don’ White ‘made £126m from crime’ Police Scotland

A gangster from Scotland’s “most prolific” organised crime groups made more than £126m, prosecutors claim.

Crown lawyers estimate James White, nicknamed The Don, made £126,241,001.29 while running the gang set up by brothers James and Barry Gillespie.

The 46-year-old, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, was a senior member of the group known for its dealings in drugs, guns, serious violence and dirty money.

He was jailed for almost ten years earlier this year after being extradited back to Scotland from Brazil.

In January, police said the Gillespies are believed to have been killed while on the run in South America.

The judge who jailed White, Lord Colbeck, said that for nearly a decade, the criminal had been a senior member of the gang which operated in Scotland and England, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil.

James and Barry Gillespie.STV News

Lord Colbeck said White’s offending was “of the utmost seriousness, involving a degree of criminality seldom seen by the courts in Scotland”.

On Monday, it was revealed prosecutors launched proceeds of crime action against White.

Legal papers lodged by the Crown with the court state that it estimates White made £126m from his life of crime.

The papers also state that prosecutors reckon they’ve identified £118,649.50 of White’s ill gotten gains which could be confiscated.

The matter, which is being contested by White’s lawyers, will be heard in court next year.

It is thought to be the biggest sum sought by the Crown in a proceeds of crime action in Scotland.

Downfall of The Don

White, who speaks fluent Spanish, rose to take control of the Gillespie Brothers’ gang and forged links with other underworld figures across the globe.

He left Scotland when associates were arrested during Operation Escalade, Police Scotland’s probe into the group.

Becoming one of the UK’s most wanted men, he was initially caught, using a false passport, in Italy in 2020.

Police there mistakenly let him go and he escaped to South America.

After a large-scale manhunt, he was found again, several months later, by armed police in rented accomodation in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza using the name Vincent McCall, of Suriname.

White pled guilty in June to directing serious and organised crime, from May 2013 to March this year.

He was linked to a £10m cocaine seizure after a lorry was stopped by Border Force officials in Dover in November 2017.

It had arrived from Alicante in Spain bound for a fake company set up by the gang in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Hidden spaces in the truck had been constructed to conceal 90 taped blocks of cocaine. It emerged 16 other shipments to Rochdale had been made over the previous two years.

The cout heard that White later directed an associate to set up another fake business in Glasgow to help continue trafficking narcotics from abroad.

He targeted Robert Allan over an unpaid £90,000 cocaine debt in 2013.

Allan had fled Scotland having been unable to sell the haul said to belong to the Gillespies. White helped track him down before other gang members held him captive and tortured him for days.

He was eventually shot in the knees three times before being shoved down a hill in a rural part of East Kilbride, Lanarkshire.

‘You could probably buy Rolex out’

The hearing was also told White was aware of cars and premises being used to hide firearms and dirty money.

These included sub-machine guns, Glock pistols, an M75 fragmentation hand grenade, bullets, silencers, and £1.7m of cash. Anti surveillance gadgets were also found.

White was further heavily involved in the widespread selling of encrypted devices for criminals to secretly communicate with each other.

A company called Maximum Protection Communications (MPC) had been set up by James Gillespie. The court heard White advertised MPC “products” at boxing events.

The court heard how he exchanged 33,000 encrypted texts to 70 associates in just two months in 2020, issuing orders. This included, in April of that year, him arranging to “petrol bomb” a site in Portugal and later to “slash” someone.

He also discussed with his ex-wife that he would return, “if he made enough money and got a ‘good deal’.”

White said: “£10m would be sufficient and doable this year.”

The court heard an associate told White: “You have that much money you could probably buy Rolex out.”

The proceeds case will next call at the High Court in Edinburgh on January 8, 2024.

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