Men jailed over drug factory which could churn out 118,000 pills per hour

The set up was found inside an industrial unit in Glasgow days after Christmas 2018.

Men jailed over drug factory which could churn out 118,000 pills per hour Getty Images

Two men involved in a drug making factory which could churn out 118,000 tablets per hour have been jailed.

Marcus Kelman, 50, and John Dickson, 36, were caught after the landlord of an industrial unit in Glasgow’s Gorbals discovered the set-up days after Christmas 2018.

A large haul of Etizolam tablets – known as street Valium – was found along with equipment to produce the class C drug.

On Friday, Kelman and Dickson were sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow by Judge Olga Pastportnikov.

Kelman was locked up for 38 months with Dickson jailed for 29 months.

They had earlier pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of Etizolam.

It emerged Kelman already had a series of drug convictions, including two previous high court jail-terms.

The discovery was sparked after the landlord was chasing rent for the unit.

Dickson had signed a lease agreement for it in October 2018.

The landlord’s employee then turned up there on December 27.

Prosecutor Greg Farrell explained: “Inside he saw what appeared to be a pill making machine, blue powder all over the floor, pills scattered and clear plastic bag which were filled with powder.”

After alerting his boss, police were alerted and searched the unit.

Mr Farrell said: “The 850kg large scale rotary press can process powder into tablets…and is capable of producing 118,000 pills per hour.”

An industrial mixer was also found along with other related items including face masks, scales, gloves and plastic bags.

A total of 94,370 Etizolam tablets were seized. They had a potential value of £47,185.

DNA and fingerprint evidence linked Kelman and Dickson to the illegal operation.

Kelman’s QC John Scullion said he had only been involved on a single day to help “operate machinery”.

Kelman, who was on licence at the time from a previous sentence, was said to have been “struggling financially” at the time and agreed to get involved.

Allan MacLeod, defending Dickson, said he had claimed to not be involved in the “manufacturing process at all”.

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