A Lanarkshire businessman who ran a drug smuggling operation with a former policeman’s help made £7million from his life of crime.
Lawrence Phee pocketed a total of £7,060,500 from his time as a criminal, the High Court in Edinburgh heard yesterday.
However, prosecutors agreed with Phee’s defence lawyers that the ex-haulage firm boss only had £75,557.41 in assets available at this time.
The details emerged following a hearing before judge Lord Sandison.
Crown lawyers had brought a proceeds of crime action against Phee, who is serving eight and a half years for drug dealing.
On Monday, prosecutors accepted an offer from Phee’s defence team to hand over the figure of £75,557.41.
Phee, of Airdrie, was arrested after police broke up a major organised crime racket.
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The entrepreneur recruited former British Transport Police Inspector David Brown, 52, to help him run the operation.
A court heard how Phee ran the racket from a base in Lanarkshire between November 1, 2017, and December 1, 2018.
Prosecutor Alan Cameron said: “The drugs were transported from Alicante region of Spain to the UK with industrial machinery.
“These were most commonly generators and compressors.
“The drugs were hidden and then transported in lorry trailers run by a variety of individuals and companies.
“The drivers of the vehicles and the operators of the transport companies were, at times, unaware of the presence of drugs.”
The court heard Phee organised 15 shipments to be made from Spain into the UK and sometimes on to the Republic of Ireland.
This often involved contacting transport firms using an alias and a fake company name – such as Pat Kelly of Kelly Compressors.
Mr Cameron said the total quantity of the drugs smuggled was unknown. But two incidents gave an “insight” into the large scale operation.
In May 2018, Phee – also known as Pat Kelly – and two associates met with a transport firm in Alicante.
A huge generator wrapped in clingfilm was then loaded on to a lorry. The drivers of the truck were later stopped by police in France.
A total of 126kg of herbal cannabis was found stashed inside the generator.
The innocent drivers were held for two days before being freed.
The herbal cannabis had a value in Scotland of £504,000 and £750,000 in Ireland, if sold in kilogram deals.
But Mr Cameron said “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 had collected a load from
Kelly Compressors in Shotts, Lanarkshire.
A police officer was suspicious about alterations made to a fuel tank that was being transported.
Mr Cameron said: “It was three-quarters full of packages of controlled drugs.”
It emerged Phee tailed the van to Cairnryan, but was not linked to the seizure at that time.
A total of 4kg of cocaine, 23kg of herbal cannabis and 5072 bars of cannabis resin were found.
The drugs were valued at £600,000 in Scotland – £1million in Ireland – but again would bring in more cash if split into smaller street deals.
On Monday, Lord Sandison gave Phee six months to hand over the money.