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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Cop blitz links gang lord Jamie 'Iceman' Stevenson to France's biggest coke bust

13:55 |

COPS battling to smash the empire of Scotland's top mobster have arrested a trucking boss linked to the biggest cocaine bust in French history.
Haulage firm chief Charles McAughey's home was one of 11 targeted last week in synchronised raids aimed at lieutenants of drug-smuggling kingpin Jamie "Iceman" Stevenson.
The Sunday Mail revealed in 2009 that French police had found nearly threequarters of a ton of cocaine in the back of a lorry owned by McAughey.
The vehicle was registered to the 51-year-old, who runs haulage company Kirimar Plant. He employed the two Glaswegian men arrested in the bust in the city of Montpellier, west of Marseilles.
Stunned French cops found 684 kilos of pure cocaine, worth an estimated £31million, hidden among cash registers and coffee in the back of the truck. We revealed at the time that the lorry had been scheduled to travel to London, then on to Glasgow.
Stevenson, 46, now serving 10 years for money-laundering, smuggled drugs into Scotland using his own lorries.
He ploughed cash into legitimate haulage firms, who he then used to flood the nation with cocaine and heroin.
McAughey's £1.5million home in Bothwell, Lanarkshire, was among those raided on Tuesday after a year-long investigation by the elite Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. The clampdown, codenamed Operation Chiron, was targeted at drugs and proceeds of crime.
Eight other men, aged between 39 and 49, were arrested in the raids.
Officers seized around £40,000 in cash, 21 laptops and 60 mobile phones. Other items, including jewellery, watches, shoes and paintings, were also confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
A scdea spokeswoman said: "Nine men arrested will be reported to the procurator fiscal for offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act and money laundering."
Kirimar Plant's yard on Uddingston's Greenelms Industrial Estate was also raided last Tuesday. McAughey appears to have re-branded the firm as Kinetic Heavy Haulage.
We spoke to McAughey at his portacabin office to ask about his arrest. He said: "I don't think it would be appropriate to comment."
McAughey is also a director of the Artists Studio in Bath Street, Glasgow, and the Bothwell Partnership - a firm who organise corporate events - with his partner Alison Donnell, 56.
It's understood a number of paintings were seized in the raid on his house, yards from the home of Rangers and Scotland midfielder Lee McCulloch.
The Artists Studio closed last month and was deserted yesterday. A worker at another business in the building said: "One minute the studio seemed to be open, the next it was an empty shell."
The two men arrested in the Montpellier truck bust are awaiting trial in Marseilles, where 1971 drug thriller The French Connection was filmed.
One of the suspects has been named as James Davidson, a father of two from Yoker, Glasgow. His wife Patricia has travelled to France several times to visit him.
A family friend said: "The last two years have been nightmare for Jim's family.
"He swears he knew nothing about the drugs and only decided to go along with the other driver at the last minute to help him out.
"Jim agreed to be second driver so the guy could get back for his daughter's birthday."
The Foreign Office said the two arrested men, both in their 50s, had been offered consular assistance.
Police in Marseilles said the suspects were still "under investigation" and the interior ministry said the investigation was "ongoing".
The French bust has also been linked to two mi l lionaire crime brothers from Glasgow, now based in Marbella. The pair, in their mid-30s, were property developer s but started working for cocaine baron Stephen Docherty in the mid-90s.
They are known simply as "The Brothers" in the underworld. They took over Docherty's operation after he killed himself.
A source told us that the SCDEA had "nothing to do" with the cocaine seizure in France.
French customs officers stopped the truck when it passed through a scanner and didn't match specifications.
Mobster who flooded Scotland with truckloads of misery
Jamie Stevenson became Scotland's biggest ever drugs smuggler after the murder of one-time friend and criminal ally Tony McGovern.
The Iceman was prime suspect for the gangland assassination.
Within a few years of McGovern's death, Stevenson had set up a worldwide trafficking operation.
He recruited an army of lorry drivers to carry drugs and guns, hidden among legal cargos, into Scotland and Ireland from across Europe.
Trucker Robert McDowall, 54, turned supergrass after he was jailed for smuggling £6million of Stevenson's heroin into Scotland. In prison interviews, he told detectives how he ferried drugs inside loads of flowers from markets in Rijnsburg, Holland.
McDowall insists he had to turn informer because Stevenson believed he was behind the operation being busted and had taken out a £10,000 contract on his life.
He said: "I messed up. I'll be paying the price for the rest of my days."

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