A Scottish businessman who ran a drugs operation has won £7million with the help of an ex-cop

A businessman who ran a drugs operation with the help of a former police officer has earned £7million from his life of crime, a court has heard.

Lawrence Phee, 51, has pocketed a total of £7,060,500 from his time as a criminal, the Edinburgh High Court heard on Monday.

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Lawrence Phee pocketed a total of £7,060,500Credit: Crown Office
Former cop David Brown helped lead the operation

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Former cop David Brown helped lead the operationCredit: Crown Office
Phee organized 15 shipments to be made from Spain to the UK and occasionally to Ireland

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Phee organized 15 shipments to be made from Spain to the UK and occasionally to IrelandCredit: Crown Office

However, prosecutors have agreed with defense lawyers for Phee that the former haulage firm boss currently only has £75,557.41 in assets.

The news emerged following a hearing before Judge Lord Sandison.

Crown attorneys had brought a proceeds of crime action against Phee, who is serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence for drug trafficking.

On Monday, prosecutors accepted an offer from Phee’s defense team to hand over the figure of £75,557.41.

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Phee, from Airdrie, Lanarkshire, was arrested after police busted a major organized crime racket.

The contractor has recruited former British Transport Police inspector David Brown, 52, to help lead the operation.

A court heard how Phee headed the racket from a base in Lanarkshire between November 1, 2017 and December 1, 2018.

Prosecutor Alan Cameron said: “The drugs were transported from the Alicante region of Spain to the UK using industrial machinery.

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“It was most often generators and compressors.

“The drugs were hidden and then transported in tractor-trailers run by various people and companies.

“Vehicle drivers and transport company operators were sometimes unaware of the presence of drugs.”

The court heard Phee arrange 15 shipments to be made from Spain to the UK and occasionally to the Republic of Ireland.

This often involved contacting transport companies using a pseudonym and false company name – such as Pat Kelly of Kelly Compressors.

Mr Cameron said the total amount of drugs smuggled was unknown. But two incidents gave a “sneak peek” of the large-scale operation.

In May 2018, Phee – also known as Pat Kelly – and two associates met with a transport company in Alicante.

A huge generator set wrapped in cling film was then loaded onto a truck. The truck drivers were later arrested by police in France.

A total of 126 kg of herbal cannabis were found hidden inside the generator.

The innocent drivers were detained for two days before being released.

The herbal cannabis had a value in Scotland of £504,000 and £750,000 in Ireland, if sold by the kilogram.

But Mr Cameron said ‘the maximum potential value would be greater’ if the drugs were broken down further.

On December 1, 2018, a van driven by Brown was stopped by police at Cairnryan Ferry Port in Wigtownshire.

He claimed to be a courier who picked up a load from Kelly Compressors in Shotts, Lanarkshire.

A police officer suspects modifications to a fuel tank during transport.

Mr Cameron said: ‘It was three quarters full of packets of controlled medication.

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It appeared Phee had followed the van to Cairnryan but was not linked to the seizure at the time.

A total of 4 kg of cocaine, 23 kg of herbal cannabis and 5072 bars of cannabis resin were found.

The drugs were valued at £600,000 in Scotland – £1million in Ireland – but would fetch even more money if split into smaller high street deals.

On Monday, Lord Sandison gave Phee six months to hand over the money.

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