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Gang leader to pay back drugs proceeds

A RINGLEADER of an international drug trafficking gang responsible for smuggling cocaine worth £40 million from Spain to Scotland has to pay back £21,000 – just a fraction of his £200,000 crime profits.

Keith Blenkinsop of Annan, Dumfries-shire, was jailed for 12 years in 2011 for his role in the smuggling gang after a judge decided he was "one of the principals in a major cocaine distribution operation".

The Class A drug was shipped into Scotland by couriers and was cut and packaged by industrial presses before being sold.

The gang who were importing the drugs between 2007 and 2009 were convicted at the High Court in Glasgow.

Others convicted were co-ringleader Lindsay Harkins from Helensburgh and three men who acted as mules – Andrew Burns, of Helensburgh; Robert Dalrymple, of Gretna; and James Elvin, from Clydebank.

The cocaine obtained by Colombians based in Barcelona was hidden inside suitcases and holdalls flown by couriers into Glasgow, Prestwick and Newcastle.

The court heard how the operation came to an end when one courier, David Harbinson, 41, of Annan, was caught with counterfeit £20 notes and told the police details of the drugs scheme.

Following his conviction the Crown brought proceedings to seize any proceeds of crime from Blenkinsop.

It was agreed the benefit from Blenkinsop's "general criminal conduct" should be recorded at £200,000 but a confiscation order should be made for £21,000. The main asset identified was his share in a property.

Blenkinsop was given six months to pay the money.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division stressed that should he obtain any cash or other assets in the future, "the court can be asked to recalculate the confiscation order, up to the amount of the benefit recorded (£200,000)".

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