The value of drugs seized by specialist police in Scotland almost tripled last year, it emerged yesterday.
Officers captured more than £20million worth of illegal drugs and arrested scores of the most serious and dangerous criminals.
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) annual report said nearly three times the amount of drugs were taken off the streets in 2007-08 than the previous year, when they confiscated drugs with a street value of £7.5million.
Seizures included more than 220 kilograms (485lb) of class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, with a street value of £15.8million, and 1,500 kilograms (3,307lb)of cannabis, with a street value of £5.1million.
Campaigns mounted by the agency led to the arrests of 170 people. This included the arrest of 49 of “the most serious and dangerous criminals”, which exceeded the annual target for arresting serious criminals by 9%.
One of the agency’s operations focused on the importation of 100 kilograms (220lb) of cannabis, with a street value of £600,000, destined for Aberdeen.
Police action in London and Aberdeen led to four arrests. In March this year, Nigerian Israel Ogbuehiwas sentenced to three years eight months in prison.
In March this year Marlon Browne, 22, from Liverpool, was sentenced to three years eight months imprisonment after being found in possession of 2.5 kilograms (5.5lb) of cocaine in Perth.
He was arrested along with 12 others in an operation in which a quantity of ammunition together with cocaine, amphetamine sulphate and cannabis were uncovered.
The SCDEA annual report said £4,659,840 worth of criminal assets were seized, an 8% increase on the previous year.
Gordon Meldrum, in his first year as director general of the SCDEA, said the agency’s success was down to the hard work, determination and bravery of its staff.
“Despite our very positive results in the last year, we cannot afford to be complacent. The nature of criminality is constantly changing and criminals are ruthless in their approach,” he said.
The report was published as the Scottish Government’s serious organised crime taskforce met in Edinburgh yesterday.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “This government wants to send out a message to these criminals around Scotland and further afield that there are no untouchables in our society. We will pursue them with vigour and we will be uncompromising in pursuing those who peddle drugs and other criminal activities.”
Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker accused the government of dragging its heels over the provision of a new “super headquarters” for the SCDEA, Serious Organised Crime Agency, and Revenue and Customs in Gartcosh, Glasgow.
“Having these experts together is the right way to tackle crime’s Mr Bigs but the SNP are stalling on this vital project,” he said.