A drug dealer who was caught collecting heroin worth £75,000 in a handover at a north-east petrol station has been jailed foe eight years.
Peterhead man Matthew Mills was arrested by undercover police officers at the Esso garage in the town’s South Road.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard the 36-year-old had become drawn into the fishing port’s criminal underworld and was in debt to a Pakistani drug dealer known simply as “Khan”.
Mills had admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin and cocaine between June 16 and July 15 this year while on bail from Peterhead Sheriff Court.
The benefits claimant was originally detained by police on June 16 when officers raided his home in the town’s Park Lane.
A sniffer dog unearthed heroin with a street value of nearly £5,500 as well as cocaine worth £260 and £660 in cash.
More cocaine was later seized at another address in Peterhead.
Repeat offender Mills spent eight days behind bars before he was released on bail – only to be caught weeks later accepting a shipment of heroin from Livingston man Ryan Colquhoun.
Following his release, police received intelligence that Mills was due to collect a package of drugs on July 15 at the garage in South Road.
Surveillance teams from the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit watched as Mills approached a Renault Clio with a carrier bag in his hand.
The 36-year-old climbed into the front seat of the hatchback before officers swooped on him and driver Colquhoun.
Nearly 900 grams of heroin – worth up to £75,000 if split up for sale on the streets – was seized, as well as nearly £3,500 in cash.
Mills later admitted his involvement in the supply of drugs and told officers it was an escalating problem caused by trying to deal with his and his partner’s addictions.
Advocate depute Jane Farquharson said yesterday: “He told police they were both using heroin and crack cocaine.
“He stated that he was in debt to a Pakistani male known to him as ‘Khan’ for drugs supplied to them and for a car that had been provided by Khan for his use and damaged by his brother whilst he was in prison.”
The prosecutor added: “He indicated that he was put under pressure by Khan, who was phoning him and threatening him and sending threatening text messages directed at both he and his partner.”
Mills’s counsel, solicitor advocate Shahid Latif, said: “He is remorseful for what he has done.”
The court heard that two previous drug crimes committed by Mills had been dealt with by non-custodial sentences, although he had been jailed for assault and robbery.
Judge Lord Burns said: “Behaviour like this must be deterred and you have been far from deterred by various orders of the court for some years now.
“You were on licence when most of this behaviour took place. You were on bail when much of it took place.”
Lord Burns told Mills that he would have faced a 10-year sentence, but for his guilty pleas.
Colquhoun, of Staunton Rise, Livingston, was jailed for three years for his part in the operation.
Last night senior police officers welcomed the sentences given to the two men.
Detective Inspector Scott Thompson said: “These sentences serve as a strong message to people who deal controlled drugs within our communities and the investigation formed part of a wider operation into a Tayside-based organised crime group, distributing controlled drugs throughout Scotland.”