A convict who ran a major drug trafficking operation by mobile phone from his cell in two Lothian prisons has been sentenced to nine years and six months in jail.
Paul McIntyre used numerous phones smuggled into Saughton and Addiewell prisons to flood the streets of Scotland with heroin and cocaine.
He masterminded three major drugs transactions from behind bars while he was already serving a 45-month sentence for drug dealing.
Three others who were part of his distribution ring - including two men from Edinburgh - were jailed for a total of almost 19 years.
The High Court at Livingston was told police intercepted 6.18 kilos of heroin with a street value of £611,900 and 2.55 kilos of cocaine valued at £101,640.
The consignments of class ‘A’ drugs had been collected from David Hughes home in Huyton, Liverpool, where they were mixed, weighed and packed.
When Scottish police raided the house in a joint operation with their Merseyside counterparts they found a press, a mould with plates, scales and a 25 kilogram drum of bulking agent.
Two empty 25 kilogram drums , parcel tape and numerous mobile phones and sim cards indicated the scale of the operation.
In Scotland, Isaac McKinnon arrange for the drugs to be sold on from his home in Niddrie, Edinburgh.
He also controlled courier Stephen Corns who is currently serving a sentence five years 219 days for drug supply.
Corns was arrested by police when he stepped off a Liverpool to Edinburgh train at Haymarket in May 2011 with nearly 1.2 kilos of heroin in his rucksack.
The fourth man caught in the police net was Scott Michael Gardner who had agreed to collect three parcels from a courier as a favour for an old friend.
He claimed he did not know the packages, which were seized while he circled the drop-off point phoning the courier, contained heroin with a street value £175000.
Passing sentence on all four, Lord Boyd commended the “excellent” work of police officers who ran the successful drugs operations which began as Operation Atom in Dumfries and Galloway in September 2010 and concluded as Operation Laurel in Lothian and Borders in October 2011.
He told the accused: “The trafficking in class A drugs is a vile and evil trade.
“Drug, and particularly heroin abuse, brings misery to individuals, to families and to communities where drugs are rife.
“You were all involved in the supply of drugs from Liverpool to Scotland.
“No doubt these drugs would have been sold on the streets of Edinburgh and elsewhere in Scotland feeding addictions and helping to create more addicts to fuel the trade.”
He added: “Three of you have accepted in your pleas that the offences were linked to serious organised crime. Drugs are the wellspring of much other crime.”
He told McIntyre from Liverpool that it was a matter of great concern that in his case prison was no barrier to further offending.
“You were the controlling influence in the commission of these offences directing operations from your cell.
“You have pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of both heroin and cocaine bringing it up from Liverpool to Edinburgh. There were three separate supplies arranged by you and David Hughes with three separate couriers.
“In my judgement the values, though significant, are less important than the number of street deals this quantity of drugs represents.
“I accept that you may not have been directly controlling the drugs in that you did not have them in your possession and that you did not control money. Nevertheless you played the leading role controlling the couriers.”
Hughes, 48, described by the judge as McIntyre’s “junior partner” in the whole enterprise, was sentenced to eight years in prison for two offences.
McKinnon, 34, who admitted being concerned in the supply of heroin at his home in May 2011, was sentenced to five years eight months.
Gardner, 29, from Edinburgh, who pled guilty to being concerned in the supply of heroin at the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass near Dreghorn junction in June, 2011, was jailed for five years.