Two men involved in a drugs factory which could produce millions of pills dubbed the “Blue Plague” have been jailed.
James Carroll was jailed for five years and three months while ex-soldier Michael Shek was sentenced to three years and nine months.
Carroll, 56, and Shek, 35, were arrested after police swooped on a 4000 sq ft industrial unit in Mary Street, Johnstone, Renfrewshire in April 2019.
The set up was capable of producing a huge haul of Etizolam tablets – also known as ‘street Valium’.
Both were sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday after having earlier pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of the drug.
Lord Mulholland said the operation was on an “industrial” scale. He told the pair: “This was an Etizolam pill factory.”
When officers raided the unit, Carroll was washing a BMW car while Shek – wearing orange gloves and white dusty clothes – dropped a metal punch used to press pills.
Tubs of powder, Etizolam tablets and substances used to mix drugs were found in a lorry and a trailer.
Other related equipment was seized from the office floor of the unit.
The Etizolam powder recovered had the potential to produce 772,137 pills worth up to £386,060.
A further 5425 ready made tablets were recovered which could reach a potential value of £2712.
Prosecutor Mark Mohammed said: “The remaining quantity (of a substance used in the manufacture of the drugs) had the potential to produce 10,595,125 Etizolam tablets.
“This would require additional Etizolam powder.”
Police went on to seize a £10,000 Rolex watch and £5645 cash from Shek’s home in Renfrew.
A tracker in a car he hired showed he had visited the drugs factory twice while he had the vehicle.
DNA also linked both he and Carroll to the crime.
Joseph Barr, defending Carroll, said he had been in debt after losing his sales job.
Mr Barr: “He saw this as a quick solution to his mounting problems.”
Shek’s lawyer John McElroy said the ex-soldier had previously served three tours of duty in Iraq.
Both men were also hit with a three year Serious Crime Prevention Order designed to monitor and tackle criminals on their release from jail.