A MILLIONAIRE tycoon who masterminded an international cocaine ring has been jailed for 12 years.
Sohaib Qureshi, 34, directed operations to smuggle high-purity from Colombia and the Caribbean to Scotland.
But the smuggling ring was brought down in an operation led by Scots cops.
And yesterday as Qureshi languished behind bars, the boss of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency hailed their success in crushing the cocaine kingpin's multi-million-pound trade.
Operation Klaxon also led to the jailing of two drug couriers in Scotland and two in the Caribbean.
And two Colombians linked to the Klaxon probe were arrested after Scots cops passed on intelligence to police in Bogota.
But the SCDEA's main target was Qureshi, who sourced high-purity cocaine direct from Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
Qureshi, who lived in Bearsden, near Glasgow, owns a number of residential properties and is director of Chillies West End, a popular restaurant on Woodlands Road, Glasgow.
Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, head of investigations at the SCDEA, spoke of the convictions won by the intelligence-led probe last night.
Mole said: "Our evidence showed that Sohaib Qureshi played a key role in directing this network and he is now beginning a significant jail term for the part he has played.
"This should send a clear message to others who are directing and supporting serious organised crime that we will target all of those who are involved, regardless of their role."
Drug couriers Ronald Augustine, 52, of Maryhill, Glasgow and David Byrne, 36, of Springboig, Glasgow pled guilty to drug charges last month.
Augustine was sentenced to seven years and Byrne two-and-a-half.
They were sentenced alongside Qureshi - who denied the charges against him but was found guilty after a trial - at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Last year, two members of the crime group were jailed in the Dominican Republic after attempting to smuggle 7.5kg of high-purity cocaine - with an estimated street value of £1.5million - back to the UK.
Kevin O'Hagan, 29, from Calton, Glasgow, is serving five years and John Hill, 54, from Livingston, West Lothian, was jailed for six years.
Mole said the case showed how international agencies are working together to disrupt major drugs gangs.
The top cop said: "Some individuals in this network were sourcing class A drugs direct from their point of production, in countries many miles from Scotland.
"But that didn't stop us from following the trail of evidence and ensuring they were stopped firmly in their tracks.
"Rather than wait for the drugs to reach our shores, we are providing our partners in other countries with our intelligence so they can intercept these gangs on our behalf."
Qureshi's downfall began in April 2009 when the SCDEA mounted a surveillance operation at a house in Springburn, Glasgow, where he and Augustine were joined by Byrne.
Officers followed when Qureshi and Byrne left. When they stopped their car, they found scales and other items used to cut and distribute drugs.
They forced entry to the house in Springburn and found 4.5kg of cocaine, with a street value of £180,000, as well as 5.5kg of benzocaine - a bulking agent.
Qureshi was on bail following that arrest when O'Hagan was seen entering his home in January last year.
Inquiries by the SCDEA revealed O'Hagan and Hill had booked to travel to the Dominican Republic.
The pair flew out but never made it back. They were intercepted at Puerto Plata airport with 7.5kg of cocaine by cops acting on an SCDEA tip-off.
The drugs would have produced up to 60kg for the UK market - bringing in millions for the crime group.
Operation Klaxon also paid off in Colombia when staff from the UK Border Agency intercepted a package which had originated in the cocaine-ravaged South American country and was destined for an address in Aberdeen.
Intelligence showed the destination address for the parcel, containing almost 1kg of 80per cent pure cocaine, was linked to the Klaxon crime group.
As a result of information passed to them, police in Colombia made more seizures of cocaine when they stopped a vehicle last April.
Two Colombians were arrested in connection with the find.
March 31, 2011
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