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Gang jailed after running drugs operation from Greenock housing estate

Five members of a criminal gang who ran a drugs operation from a housing estate have been jailed for a total of more than 31 years after being busted in an encrypted phone sting.

Ringleader Lee Docherty, 37, his right-hand man and brother-in-law Ian Millar, 39, Brendan Gillan, 32, his father Daniel Gillan, 60, and Christopher McKellar, 44, traded in drugs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how the gang controlled the sale and supply of class A drugs, including cocaine, heroin, cannabis and etizolam, from a "heavily-fortified" property in a Larkfield housing estate in Greenock, Inverclyde.

Their operation was foiled after French authorities intercepted encrypted messages on the EncroChat platform, a communication network favoured by criminals, and passed them on to Police Scotland.

The court heard one message referred to valium pills with a street value of more than £700,000.

A police raid in December 2020 led to a seizure of drugs worth £150,000, as well as £12,775 in cash, at the Oxford Road property referred to as "the shop" or "the trap".

Prosecutors said the gang wreaked "disorder and disruption" in the local community.

Sineidin Corrins, deputy procurator fiscal for specialist casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: "For years, the criminal activities of these individuals have impacted the everyday lives of many ordinary people in the Larkfield area of Greenock through their significant involvement in serious organised crime.

"They caused widespread disorder and disruption within the local community through the supply of drugs and their influence on young people.

"This extended to every facet of the community, from local people living in the area to those who ran shops or businesses.

"But now, thanks to the efforts of officers within Police Scotland and prosecutors at COPFS, their grip on the local community has been dismantled."

The men were sentenced on Thursday after previously pleading guilty to being involved in serious organised crime between March and December 2020.

Docherty was jailed for eight years, while Millar - who was responsible for moving the drugs - was handed a six-year sentence.

Brendan Gillan was also sentenced to six years, while his father was jailed for six years and four months.

McKellar was jailed for five years and four months.

Ms Corrins added: "The members of this community can now move forward safe in the knowledge that these five individuals will spend a lengthy time in prison having now been brought to justice for these crimes. There are consequences for this type of criminality."

Read more from Sky News:
EncroChat: What it is, who was running it, and how did criminals get their encrypted phones?

Drug dealer snared in sting that showed cannabis disguised as Wonka chocolate bar

The court also agreed to impose Serious Crime Prevention Orders on Docherty, Millar and the younger Gillan.

All five will also be the subject of confiscation proceedings under proceeds of crime legislation.

Detective Chief Inspector Robert Bowie, senior investigating officer for the case, branded the men a "blight" on the community of Greenock and the wider Inverclyde area and said they caused "nothing but harm in pursuit of their own gain".

He added: "Our officers, working with partners, worked tirelessly to expose the criminal activity of this group, ultimately leading to them facing justice today."