Police in Moray have stepped up efforts to smash organised crime gangs blighting the region.
Over the last year specialist officers have “significantly disrupted” two serious rings while breaking up “numerous” smaller groups.
The development comes at the same time police revealed they had seized £291,000 from criminals across the north-east between April 2016 and March 2017 – an increase of nearly £180,000 from the previous year.
Officers also raided 66 homes across the region during that time – seizing cocaine, cannabis and diamorphine with a total street value of £137,000.
Last night Moray MSP Richard Lochhead praised the efforts of police to ensuring profits from crime are instead diverted into worthy causes.
He said: “The efforts officers are ensuring that criminals are not only apprehended but are unable to profit from their crimes.
“The proceeds will now be recycled into good causes spread across society. This sends a powerful message to the north-east that crime does not pay.”
The latest figures will be presented to Moray Council’s police and fire rescue services committee today.
There were 50 drug supply offences recorded during the 12-month period, an increase of 16 from the previous year, as well as 321 possession offences, a rise of 104. There were eight drug deaths, three less than 2015 to 2016.
In a report ahead of the talks Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson explained the region remained one of the safest places to live in Scotland. However, he warned the illegal supply of drugs remained one of the main threats.
Ch Supt Thomson added: “Based on recent information it appears that Inverness and Elgin are linked with regard to English-based drug dealers.
“Approximately 5.5kg of heroin was recovered during a Highlands and Islands division operation and the principle subsequently imprisoned for 10 years. Nominals within this group had significant links to Moray.
“We, with partners, will continue to robustly target the serious and organised crime group’s who prey on the most vulnerable in our communities to make Moray a hostile environment for them to operate.”