POLICE chiefs today hailed the success of a crackdown on serious organised crime in the Lothians as they revealed that eight gang leaders had been arrested and charged in the last nine months.
Detectives swooped on the “principals” of eight of the 21 organised crime gangs known to be operating in the force area while seizing £1.6 million of Class A drugs between April and December last year.
The leaders were among 131 gang members arrested for various offences during the nine-month period as a result of work by the Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
Officers recovered handguns or shotguns on three occasions from the gangs, while six stashes of CS gas or stun guns were found in their possession.
Detective Superintendent David Gordon, head of Lothian and Borders Police’s SOCU, said: “These individuals have all been arrested as part of our strategy to tackle serious organised crime. Some have already been dealt with while most are awaiting court appearances.
“We’ve had significant successes over this period through focusing our resources on these crime groups and building up our intelligence to reduce the impact they have on the public.
“Like any organisation, these groups tend to have someone at the top. We’ll use all opportunities to ensure their ability to operate is reduced. Nine of these principals have been arrested for drug or other offences.
“Fifteen of the 21 groups have had the risk they pose to the community downgraded as we have reduced their ability to operate as a business.”
Det Supt Gordon said associates of jailed Edinburgh gang leaders, Mark Richardson and George Buchanan, were among those arrested.
As well as the arrests, police identified £6.87m of assets belonging to gang members for possible seizure under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Det Supt Gordon added: “The assets identified for seizures are primarily residential properties and business premises.”