POLICE today revealed a crackdown on organised crime in the Lothians.
It will target those who fund their lavish lifestyles through illegal activities by encouraging the public to inform on anyone apparently living beyond their means.
The campaign is the latest phase of the “Made from Crime?” initiative.
Today’s launch marks an extension of the previous campaign, which was highly successful across the Lothian and Borders area in 2011.
During that phase 44 people were arrested and charged with Proceeds of Crime offences, and over £6.4 million of cash and assets were earmarked for seizure from criminals.
Under POA powers, police and prosecutors are able to pursue the assets of offenders and make seizures.
Successful drives have already seen £2,075,000 worth of criminal goods earmarked for seizure and £3,390,000 worth of Class A and B drugs recovered from criminal gangs
In August 2011, “Made from Crime?” was launched to target low-level thieves and housebreakers in Edinburgh who faced having their own property seized in the first move of its kind in Scotland.
The powers were an expansion of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which was traditionally used to target the leaders of drug gangs.
The public is being asked to help catch those living off the proceeds of Crime by either calling Crimestoppers anonymously or by tipping off police on dedicated area Facebook pages.
The clampdown was unveiled today by Police Service of Scotland Detective Chief Constable Iain Livingstone, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, David Harvie, director of operations with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and Bill Matthews from Crimestoppers.
Deputy Chief Constable Livingstone said: “The launch of this campaign today sends out a strong message that the police in Scotland will not tolerate criminals profiting from crime”.
Mr Harvie said: “We need to be one step ahead of them. To do that, we need to know what is happening on the ground. Law Enforcement and prosecutors can’t do that alone. Our biggest allies in this are the decent, hardworking people who see first- hand the devastation that organised crime brings to communities and the profits made by those criminals from the misery of others.”
Mr MacAskill said: “‘Made From Crime?’ is a great initiative in the fight against organised crime and I welcome it being expanded across the east of Scotland.
“There should be no hiding place in our neighbourhoods for those who cash in on crime.”
“More than £6.4 million worth of dirty money and assets was earmarked for seizure through the first phase and I look forward to this second phase building on that through the CashBack for Communities Programme to put that bad money to good use.
BIG SPENDERS BROUGHT TO BOOK
The Proceeds of Crime Act has been used in a bid to seize assets from a number of high-profile drug dealers in the Lothians.
• Sean McGovern
McGovern was jailed for 17 years in April 2009 following a police operation against a ten-strong gang.
McGovern, then 25, also convicted of dealing heroin, admitted firing shots at The Gauntlet Bar in Broomhouse during a bitter feud with a rival dealer.
A jet ski and a Range Rover are among the assets the authorities plan to seize, as well as cash, several properties and other items of value, even down to his designer clothes. McGovern, of Little Road, Gracemount, was living a “Champagne lifestyle way beyond his means”, including lavish foreign holidays.
• George ‘Dode’ Buchanan
Buchanan was ordered to pay out £200,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act after a judge ruled in 2008 that he was “a dealer in controlled drugs” who profited from the illegal trade. The money came from the sale of Buchanan’s house in Gilberstoun, Brunstane, following a private sale.
Buchanan had to sell his Range Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper and Ford Focus, and was ordered to sell the family home to make up the remaining £126,750.
The 55-year-old was jailed for five years and five months in April 2011 for leading a heroin dealing operation in Craigmillar.
• Mark Halliday
Investigators believed Halliday, then 29, led one of the Capital’s biggest cocaine dealing gangs after being jailed for seven years in 2008. Halliday, who lived in Grandfield, Trinity, and drove a Mercedes, treated his girlfriend to extravagant gifts such as a car and holiday in the Maldives.
He was caught following a police operation against cocaine dealers in the Lothians, which netted £300,000 of the drug. Halliday spent lavishly while heading up the drug supply network, and often shopped in Harvey Nichols.