£2.5m drugs gang used ‘Breaking Bad’ scheme

Ryan Mayberry. Picture: comp
Ryan Mayberry. Picture: comp
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THE mastermind behind an armed gang who emulated TV show Breaking Bad’s carwash money-laundering scheme were caught with £2.5 million of drugs

Ryan Mayberry was “manager and organiser” of the crime gang in West Lothian which trafficked in cannabis, cocaine and amphetamine.

Patrick McKervey. Picture: comp

Patrick McKervey. Picture: comp

The 34-year-old helped finance and establish the Showroom Shine business in Bathgate Road, Whitburn, as a legitimate front to “wash” the dirty cash.

The laundering scheme was made famous by Bryan Cranston’s Walter White character in the hit TV show about a teacher-turned-drug dealer.

But the Lothians gang was targeted under Operation Saddler, which led to detectives making more than 20 arrests, including its associates in Coventry and Liverpool.

Detective Superintendent David Gordon, from the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit, said a sawn-off shotgun had been seized from the gang during raids.

Hugh McAnna. Picture: comp

Hugh McAnna. Picture: comp

Mayberry and three other men were jailed for a total of 17 years at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday for their part in the cross-border smuggling racket.

Ringleader Mayberry, of Raeburn Rigg, Livingston, was given four years and nine months, while English counterpart Patrick McKervey, 31, from Coventry, received the same sentence.

Hugh McAnna, 52, of Harthill Road, Fauldhouse, who acted as a money courier, and Gordon Stewart, 50, of Loch Trool Way, Whitburn, who was a drugs mule, were each jailed for three years and nine months.

Advocate Leanne Cross told the court that Mayberry and McKervey “effectively facilitated the transporting of hundreds of kilos of controlled drugs from England into the West Lothian area”.

Det Supt Gordon said: “We recovered more than half a tonne of cannabis resin, one kilo of cocaine, 28kg of amphetamine, and legal highs. We also seized two large cannabis cultivations.

“In total, it was £2.5m of drugs and more than 20 people have been arrested for offences including money laundering, firearms and drug supply.”

Det Supt Gordon said the operation, which was launched in March 2012 and ran for nine months, brought down those at “the top of the tree”.

He added: “Ryan Mayberry was the manager and organiser at the West Lothian end.

“McKervey was the organiser from the English side. This was an organised crime group which extended across the country, and we worked with other forces on the investigation.

“Mayberry had connections to businesses including a car valeting and showroom business in Whitburn. We had information that the business was really used as a means of laundering money.”

Det Supt Gordon said criminal gangs often used “cash-rich” businesses to launder drug cash by inflating the actual profits being made by the legitimate front, and added they would continue to target such fronts alongside Her
Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.