‘Managerial level’ heroin trafficker gets seven years

A BUSINESSMAN turned heroin trafficker has been jailed for seven years following a year-long police investigation into drug dealing and money laundering.

Mohammed Riaz was arrested last November as part of Operation Xylem and officers recovered two kilos of the Class A drug worth £200,000.

The 40-year-old was linked to the distribution of heroin in Edinburgh and West Lothian, and a judge said it was clear he was acting “in a managerial capacity” in the illicit trade.

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Riaz was snared after detectives spotted him picking up the heroin from a contact in the Capital in July 2009. Officers followed his vehicle and saw him transporting the drug through Bathgate, West Lothian, and Glasgow.

Riaz, who used to live in Edinburgh but has since moved to Winslow, Cheshire, was sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

He will later be sentenced with 44-year-old Graeme Davidson for money laundering and fraud, which were also detected during Operation Xylem.

Detective Inspector Jimmy Gilchrist, who led the investigation, said: “A detailed and complex investigation into Mohammed Riaz and his associates was undertaken by the force and the intelligence we gathered ensured that large quantities of Class A drugs were seized before they could be distributed.

“Detectives built a significant body of evidence against Riaz to secure guilty verdicts for all of the offences detected as part of Operation Xylem and he is set to spend a lengthy period of time behind bars.”

Lord Uist said Riaz, who has retail and property interests, had been operating at what prosecutors described as “higher level dealing”.

Sentencing Riaz yesterday, Lord Uist told him: “On each occasion you were instrumental in bringing into the Edinburgh area a kilo of heroin. Fortunately, the police were able to intercept each consignment and prevent the drugs causing untold damage to drug users and the community in general.”

He added: “You have in the past been a successful businessman, but you voluntarily decided to become engaged in the business of dealing in heroin.

“This court has repeatedly warned of the severe consequences which will follow for those convicted of dealing in Class A drugs such as heroin, and you must have been well aware of the risk you were taking.”

Riaz had denied being concerned in the supply of heroin in June and July 2009 at locations in Edinburgh, Bathgate and Glasgow. He was found guilty last month after a four-day trial.

Lord Uist told him: “The jury disbelieved the obvious lies which you told when giving evidence at your trial and convicted you on the basis of very strong evidence of being concerned in the supply of heroin on two separate occasions.”

The judge said he noted that Riaz, also known as Rasul, had repeated the same lies to a social worker who prepared a background report on him ahead of sentencing.

Defence counsel Paul Nelson said Riaz maintained his innocence and there was nothing he could say.

The Crown has started proceedings to seize assets from Riaz under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Courier jailed over £230k coke haul

A DRUG courier who was caught with £230,000 of cocaine after he was stopped by police on a busy road has been jailed for four years.

Kevin McConville, 33, was halted by officers on the A1, near Dunbar, East Lothian, on December 15, 2011 and almost a kilo of the drug was found along with a further quarter kilo of mixing agent.

A house search then discovered more than three kilos of cocaine along with a quantity of cutting agent.

McConville earlier admitted being concerned in the supply of the drug at his home in Stanley, County Durham, and on the A1.

Lord Pentland told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have pled guilty to a serious offence.”

The judge said he acknowledged that McConville had no significant previous convictions, but had accepted responsibility as a custodian and courier for the drugs.

He told McConville that he would have faced a six-year jail sentence, but for his guilty plea.

Defence counsel Susan Duff said McConville had been put under “considerable pressure” to take part.