James "The Iceman" Stevenson, 41, once the main suspect for the murder of rival Glasgow crime clan boss Tony McGovern, illegally laundered hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of "dirty" cash from trafficking in Class A drugs.
Sitting beside him at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday was his right-hand man, his stepson Gerard Carbin, 26, who was snared by the same Operation Folklore run by Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) detectives.
It is understood Stevenson was top of detectives' most-wanted list for several years, but until his arrest in 2006 he had evaded capture and appeared in court as a first offender.
Police had Stevenson and Carbin under surveillance after being given permission to plant electronic bugs in their homes to eavesdrop on their deals. During a three-year investigation, they listened to thousands of hours of conversations and swooped when they eventually obtained the evidence they needed.
In a series of raids, SCDEA officers recovered 55 high-value watches worth 307,000 and a fleet of ten Skoda Octavia cars valued at 98,000, all bought with laundered money, mostly from trafficking in Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Stevenson had links with another "Mr Big", John Gorman, 50, from Irvine, Ayrshire, who is serving a 12-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering.
Gorman was also caught by Operation Folklore, which saw Spanish customs and undercover police seize a 24 million cargo of cannabis from his converted trawler, the Squilla.
Stevenson had originally been accused of drug trafficking, but the charges were dropped in a deal with prosecutors.
Yesterday, Stevenson sat in the dock as Sean Murphy, QC, prosecuting, revealed details of how the SCDEA brought his criminal organisation to an end.
Stevenson and Carbin admitted laundering drugs money to acquire the 55 watches between December 2003, and last September. They also admitted hiding 204,510 of criminal cash at Carbin's luxury 320,000 villa in East Kilbride, which was bought by Stevenson in 2005.
Stevenson, from Burnside, Lanarkshire, who described himself as a self-employed car valeter and jewellery trader, also admitted buying the ten Skoda cars. They were licensed in the name of his wife, Caroline - whose one-eyed, drug-dealing former husband, Gerry "Cyclops" Carbin snr, died in 2003 - and used in a taxi business called CS Cars. Stevenson also admitted laundering a further 389,035 of criminal money, and Carbin admitted laundering 7,820 found in his house and 5,000 found at another taxi firm. A confiscation order seeking cash amounting to 213,330, has already been served on the pair.
Mr Murphy revealed that from May 2003, detectives were authorised to plant a listening device in Stevenson's home, and from the autumn of 2005 a hidden microphone in Carbin's house.
Mr Murphy detailed some of the conversations Carbin had, including one with a man called Kevin, who arrived with bundles of cash totalling 204,510 in a holdall at his home on 22 January last year. Police raided the house, seized the cash and also noted a large number of expensive watches in a bedroom.
After Carbin was interviewed on tape and released, police then eavesdropped on his conversation in Stevenson's house during which the crime boss referred to the seized cash as "oor money". He repeatedly indicated he would tell the police it was his money and say it was the proceeds of car and jewellery sales.
Detectives heard Carbin apologise and insist he would never be caught out in a similar way in the future, after which Stevenson told him: "I never have any money in the house."
On 16 May last year, after seizing a case containing 389,053, police eavesdropped on Stevenson again and heard him express concern over the possibility that those who had been stopped with the cash would talk to the police about his involvement.
The judge, Lord Hodge, will sentence the pair on Tuesday.
FORMER FRIEND SHOT DEAD AS HE SAT IN CAR
JAMIE Stevenson was once accused of gunning down former close friend and notorious Glasgow drug dealer Tony McGovern.
McGovern was shot after going for a drink in a bar in the Springburn area of Glasgow in September 2000.
But charges against Stevenson, known as the Bull and the Iceman, were dropped because of lack of evidence.
Witnesses failed to pick out Stevenson at an identity parade. It is thought he also had an alibi for the night of the killing, which took place outside the New Morvern Bar.
McGovern was shot five times after being ambushed in his Audi car. The bullet-proof vest he was wearing failed to save him.
McGovern, 35, was head of a well-known and well-connected crime family which was thought to have made millions from the heroin trade, pubs and money-laundering.
Stevenson was a close friend for 15 years and the pair acted as best man at each other's weddings.
When Stevenson married wife Caroline, McGovern gave the couple an expensive holiday as a wedding present.
The two gangsters played golf at exclusive courses near both Glasgow and Edinburgh and regularly went to Celtic matches together.
But at some stage, they are believed to have had a serious disagreement.
McGovern's murder remains unsolved.