TEN prisoners and five others including three women have been arrested after cops smashed a crime network operating inside a Scots jail.
HMP Addiewell in West Lothian was targeted in a pre-planned crackdown - codenamed Operation Hambro - to crackdown on the illegal use of drugs and mobile phones.
The joint operation, which was launched on Tuesday and carried on all through yesterday, comes after a string of revelations over their use behind bars.
HMP Addiewell - run for the prison service by private security firm Sodexo - saw the police and SPS activity spans 48-hours.
But the Evening news understands it comes following an intelligence led operation spanning several months.
It was launched specifically to target drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and heroin along with other so called psychoactive substances.
Investigators said they have recovered a quantity of the drugs in the 48-hour raids.
Yesterday’s targeted action is thought to have disrupted major supply chains both with and outside the facility.
The Evening News understands that ten of those arrested - aged between 19 and 35 - were from within the prison system.
Two of them were charged with selling and supplying drugs.
Eight others have been held over possession. Three were also charged for having mobile phone illegally.
Outside the jail, two other men, both aged 34, were arrested as part of the operation.
One is known to be from Edinburgh, the other North Lanarkshire.
Sources have revealed three women aged 27, 34 and 57 from the Renfrewshire area have also been held.
They are charged in connection with the sale and supply of drugs.
Superintendent Craig Smith of Police Scotland’s Lothians and Scottish Borders Division said: “This successful operation is the result of extensive intelligence and evidence-gathering work conducted by our officers, staff within HMP Addiewell and colleagues at the Scottish Prison Service. I’d like to thank our partners for their dedication and support in tackling this issue.
“The proliferation of drugs within the prison estate is a serious issue, which can severely hinder those individual’s chances of rehabilitation and addressing their offending behaviour.
“Tackling the misuse of drugs and their distribution is a top priority for Police Scotland. Rest assured that whenever such offences are brought to our attention, whether it’s in our communities or our prisons, we will work with the relevant organisations to bring those responsible to justice.”
Ian Whitehead, Director of HMP Addiewell, said: “Police Scotland’s early recognition of the problems posed by psychoactive substances in prison and associated criminal activity has allowed us to develop a unique partnership approach, taking robust action against those who attempt to introduce drugs to prisons.
“We will continue to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, working with Police Scotland through Operation Hambo and beyond, as well as NHS and other partner agencies to tackle this issue.
“The safety of our staff remains our top priority. We will continue to support those within our care suffering from substance misuse issues while every possible action is taken against those who attempt to introduce illicit items to the prison; and who take an active part in moving drugs within the establishment.”
Tom Fox, Head of Corporate Affairs for the Scottish Prison Service, said: “We will continue to work with police and other agencies to address the problems caused by those trying to introduce contraband into prisons in Scotland.
“We devote a great deal of time and energy to tackling the problem of illicit drugs and other contraband entering the prison environment. We are committed to doing all we can to detect and prosecute those who continue to pedal this misery.”
All those charged will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal and are expected to appear in court in due course.