TWO men caught with cocaine with a street value of £3.2 million were jailed for a total of almost 13 years yesterday.
Raids on the homes of Joseph Crichton and Stephen Currie uncovered one of the largest hauls of cocaine in Strathclyde for several years.
The raids followed the setting up of Operation Facet after police received intelligence that organised criminals were involved in importing and distributing the drug on a massive scale.
But the High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday that bakery assistant Crichton, 47, and unemployed Stephen Currie, 47, had only bit-parts, having been lured into helping drug barons because of gambling debts.
Defence QC Paul McBride, for first-time offender Crichton, said: He is someone who has been taken advantage of by others who are not in the dock today. He plainly went into this with open eyes. He was someone who had significant debts as a result of gambling.
Brian McConnachie QC, for Currie, said although he was looking after cocaine worth about £2.8m, he was not the man who was going to benefit substantially. He had agreed to store the cocaine to clear a £600 gambling debt.
Sentencing the pair, judge Lady Dorrian said their involvement was not at the top of the scale - but not at street level either. Crighton was jailed for six years. Currie - described as no stranger to the courts - was jailed for six years and eight months.
Both had admitted being concerned in the supply of cocaine last 3 September.
The court heard that police found a "drug factory" at Crichton's home at Cree Avenue, in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow.
Along with cocaine valued at over £400,000, they found benzococaine, which is used to cut, or dilute, the drug to boost profits.
On the same day, police targeted Currie's home at Emerson Road, Bishopbriggs. His DNA was found holdalls containing cocaine with a price tag of £2.8m.
By Brian Horne
15 July 2010
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