Busted by bugged BMW – drug gang gets 30 years

FOUR members of a gang whose multi-million pound drug operation was smashed in a massive police investigation were jailed yesterday.

The men were involved in an "extensive" cocaine dealing network broken by Operation Lockdown, a 15-month police probe involving 100 officers a day, the High Court in Glasgow heard.

It resulted in the seizure of drugs worth 8.8 million, as well as machine guns and seven luxury cars.

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Ringleader Brian McCulloch, 39, from Paisley, was jailed for 10 years for his part in "organising and running" the network. He was caught when he bought a bugged BMW car from co-accused Stephen Jamieson.

Jamieson, 26, also from Paisley, was jailed for eight years for his role in the gang. The High Court was told he used his profits to buy a 115,000 Lamborghini car, spent 1,800 on a dog and 10,315 on three watches.

Steven Caddis, 30 – described as a "serious and trusted" member of the gang – was jailed for six years.

His brother Gary Caddis, 26, from Glasgow, played "the least significant" role in the gang's operation, arranging for large quantities of cocaine to be delivered to addicts. He was jailed for five years and three months.

Police overheard the gang discussing the purchase and sale of cocaine using codewords and discussing deals worth tens of thousands of pounds. Subsequent raids found large amounts of guns and cash.

All four men admitted dealing cocaine, while Jamieson also admitted money laundering at an earlier hearing.

Judge Lord Pentland said the sentences reflected "society's condemnation" of the activities of gangs such as McCulloch's. He told McCulloch: "It is a trade which wreaks so much misery on its users and their families."

Operation Lockdown was one of the largest operations run by Strathclyde Police to crack down on organised criminal gangs. Police searched 171 houses and 146 people have been questioned.

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Officers have so far seized almost 9million of drugs and drug-related material, 445,000 in cash, two MAC-10 machine guns and three sawn-off shotguns, four shotguns, 11 rifles, eight handguns and 3,400 rounds of ammunition as well as three canisters of CS gas spray.

Among the cars seized were three Range Rovers, two BMWs, a Lexus and Porsche Cayenne. Eight watches, including five Rolexes, were also seized.

Speaking after the sentencing, the operation's leader Detective Superintendent Colin Field said: "These men, who sat at the top of an organised crime group, believed themselves to be above the law. Today's sentence proves how very wrong they were.

"Lockdown was one of our largest ever investigations in terms of the number of arrests and the recoveries of drugs and firearms.

"This operation has demonstrated that whether you are the kingpin, the courier or the person who allows their house to be used for storing drugs or guns for those masterminding an organised crime group, you will all be held responsible."

The court was told how Jamieson and McCulloch were involved in the drugs trade at a "high and highly profitable level", running a criminal business with "numerous employees".

Police had obtained "good intelligence" to suggest that Jamieson had been involved in "high-level criminality" but did not have enough evidence to bring him to court.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran told the High Court that Jamieson had adopted a deliberately "hands-off" approach to the drugs trade, and it was thought "unlikely" they would ever catch him red-handed.

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Instead, officers put a bugging device in his car, a BMW X5, to try to catch him and his criminal associates planning and executing drug deals.

It allowed police to record conversations between the gang members in which they discussed the large amounts of money they were making from the cocaine being supplied.

Jamieson later sold his car to McCulloch, enabling police to snare him as well.

Stockpile of drugs and guns seized by Lockdown

WHEN the gang behind the cocaine-dealing network were finally caught, officers raiding their properties seized drugs, cash and luxury items that gave an insight into their lifestyle.

Drugs worth close to 9million were discovered, along with cash totalling 450,000.

Along with this was an arsenal of weaponry that revealed the violence that was part and parcel of their business.

It included two powerful MAC-10 machine guns, seven shotguns, three of them sawn-off, 11 rifles and eight handguns with a substantial cache of ammunition.

In addition, three canisters of CS spray, used to incapacitate individuals, were also discovered.

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Police also took away those items believed to be purchased using the proceeds of the gangs crimes: three Range Rover cars, a BMW X5, a BMW X3, a Lexus and one Porsche Cayenne. They also seized five Rolex watches, two Cartier watches and one Breitling watch.

Jamieson himself had admitted using money obtained by crime to buy three watches worth 10,315.

As one of the biggest operations ever undertaken by Scottish police, the impact of Operation Lockdown on criminal activity in Scotland was substantial.

Out of the 146 arrests made during it, a total of 107 cases were submitted to the Crown and officials said sentences totalling 164 years were handed down for drugs, firearms and money-laundering offences.