A Glasgow drug dealer who cornered the market in Aberdeen and the North-east selling heroin with a street value of up to #6m was yesterday jailed for 18 years.

During the two years he exploited the spiralling drug problem in Europe's oil capital, more than 60 young drug users died. Most of their supplies originated from James Hamill, a 38-year-old father of three, who was found guilty by a unanimous decision at Aberdeen High Court.

During his ''reign'' he also forced his Aberdeen dealers to increase their turnover, drawing more youngsters into addiction, to bolster his profits.

Hamill's henchman James Gemmill, 43, was jailed for 12 years for his role after being found guilty by a majority decision.

Neither man was a drug addict. Their motivation was greed but they used drug addicts to operate as couriers and yesterday five of them were jailed for a total of 29 years for their crimes.

''Trafficking in drugs is a sordid and evil business,'' Lord Marnoch told them. ''It results in broken familes and ruined lives.''

In the case of Class A drugs, he said, Parliament took such a serious view that it provided for a sentence of life imprisonment, even for a first offence.

Giving evidence, Hamill had bragged of smuggling alcohol and cigarettes worth millions but denied being a drug dealer. He said he was a Robin Hood type figure who stole from the rich but kept it for himself.

But the cool manner displayed in the witness box vanished yesterday when he was sentenced.

He shouted abuse at Lord Marnoch and struggled with police as he was led away.

Craig Taylor, 28, gave the thumbs-up sign to his family as he left to start a seven year sentence after being found guilty unanimously. There was no show of emotion from Mark Williamson, 22, as he was given five years.

William Reid, 22, who was sentenced to six years after admitting supplying heroin, had claimed that his children had moved to Wales following threats, but Lord Marnoch said threats were part of the ''twilight world of drugs''.

Michael McGougan, 34, who admitted supplying drugs with a street value of #90,000, was jailed for six years. Alan Morrison, 24, who also admitted supplying heroin, was jailed for five years.

Charges against Robert Latham, 37, and Graham Fyfe, 23, were found not proven.

It was the massive increase in heroin abuse in Aberdeen and the North east and the soaring increase in drugs deaths which led Grampian police to target several groups of dealers.

Drug squad officers reasoned that the common link between the six main groups was that they were being supplied by ''Hammy'' - James Hamill in Glasgow.

Hamill enjoyed a lifestyle well beyond his apparent means. He ran a top-of-the-range Mercedes in which he often picked up the couriers on their arrival from Aberdeen. He owned two luxury houses in Glasgow and took frequent holidays abroad with family and friends.

Hamill and Gemmill had been known to the Scottish Crime Squad for a number of years as major suppliers of heroin, but it appeared that they had grasped an opportunity and cornered the market in Aberdeen.

It is conservatively estimated they pushed heroin with a street value of between #4-#6m for each of the two years they dominated the supply to the North east.

Grampian Police and the Scottish Crime Squad embarked on a joint operation at the end of 1996 targeting the main dealers and couriers in Aberdeen under Operation Harvest, and targeting Hamill and his associates under Operation Allergy. The surveillance in Aberdeen and Glasgow led to a number of couriers being ''taken out'' by police.

The arrest of Hamill and Gemmill was sanctioned when, after six months on the case, the officers involved at last believed they had gathered sufficient evidence.

Hamill had been the subject of three previous operations but on each occasion not enough evidence was secured to convict him. Police believe that was because of witness intimidation.

This time, unprecedented security surrounded the remand of those accused and the five-and-a half week trial.

On September 17 raids were carried out on several houses in Glasgow. Hamill and Gemmill were arrested and heroin and cocaine worth #370,000 seized.

When Hamill was arrested he told officers: ''No jury in Scotland will convict me.''