Organised crime gang who flooded Edinburgh with 'wholesale' cocaine caged

-Credit: (Image: (Image: Police Scotland))
-Credit: (Image: (Image: Police Scotland))

Four people from an organised crime gang have been jailed after it was unveiled they were responsible for inundating Edinburgh and Lothians with cocaine.

Crime lord Dale Cleeton is said to have been the 'driving force' behind the gang's 'wholesale level' activities, despite already being behind bars at HMP Edinburgh, where two phones and sim cards were found in his cell.

The 31-year-old's illicit activities were uncovered after prison guards discovered the devices on October 22, 2021 and April 25, 2022. They contained messages with 30-year-old Calvin Begbie, who was described as Cleeton’s ‘right hand man’.

He was responsible for assessing the condition or quality of cocaine before it was moved on to lower-level dealers. The duo regularly exchanged messages with details of ‘tick lists’ – individuals who had paid or were due to pay sums of money for the supply of drugs.

Begbie, the owner of a landscape gardening business, also sent photographs of the cocaine to Cleeton so he could check them. On June 2, 2022, Begbie was stopped by police officers while driving.

They discovered a quantity of cocaine, £2980 in cash and two mobile phones. A follow up search at his home uncovered £5440 in cash, more high purity cocaine and a Safescan money counter.

Fraser Boyd, the uncle of Begbie, allowed his Edinburgh home to be used as a storage facility for quantities of cocaine and associated paraphernalia. Investigators found Mitchel Whyte, a self-employed gardener, was a subordinate in the organised crime group.

The 24-year-old was responsible for selling ‘quarter’ and ‘half bars’ of cocaine in the Haddington and Dunbar areas of East Lothian. On June 7, at the High Court in Glasgow, the crime gang were jailed for more than 18-years collectively.

Cleeton was jailed for seven years, Begbie for six, Boyd for three and Whyte for 32 months. Cleeton and Begbie were both given Serious Crime Prevention Orders (SCPOs) for a period of three years.

Images of drugs were recovered from Cleeton's phone.
Images of drugs were recovered from Cleeton's phone. -Credit:(Image: Crown Office)

The orders will come into effect once they are released from prison and are designed to prevent the men from returning to crime.

Sineidin Corrins, Deputy Procurator Fiscal for Specialist Casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said: “Three of these individuals were responsible for the supply of cocaine on a wholesale scale in the Edinburgh and Lothian areas while the fourth allowed the drugs to be stored in his home.

"They are now serving lengthy prison sentences thanks to the work of prosecutors and an extensive police operation to tackle and disrupt serious organised crime. I hope that these convictions and the sentences send a strong message to others involved in this kind of criminal behaviour.

“They demonstrate the ability of police and prosecutors to investigate, prepare and prosecute serious and organised crime cases of this nature. We are targeting those people who threaten communities across Scotland, not only drug couriers but also those who direct their movements.

“The Crown will continue working with the police and other agencies as a member of Scotland’s Serious and Organised Crime Taskforce to ensure that these crimes are detected and those responsible prosecuted using all measures at our disposal."

Detective Inspector Mark McCullagh, senior investigating officer for the case, said: “These men and their organised crime group were a significant factor in the trade of illegal drugs in Edinburgh and The Lothians. They caused nothing but harm in pursuit of their own gain.

“Their activities were uncovered by an intelligence-led operation by specialist officers working in Edinburgh. Disrupting the activities of organised crime groups and making the country an extremely hostile environment for them to operate is one of Police Scotland’s top priorities.

“There is no place for serious organised criminality in our society and, working in partnership with the local communities we serve, law enforcement agencies and the members of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, we will continue our fight against those involved in serious and organised crime to keep our communities safe.”

Cleeton and Begbie previously admitted being involved in serious organised crime involving the supply of drugs between August 20, 2021, and June 2, 2022.

Fraser Boyd earlier admitted being involved in serious organised crime between the same dates by agreeing to store cocaine. Mitchell Whyte previously admitted being involved in serious organised crime between October 3, 2021, and March 18, 2022, involving the supply of drugs.

A Proceeds of Crime confiscation order against Cleeton and Begbie will be considered at a later date. It comes as experts revealed cocaine powder is "much more available and affordable than it's ever been", as cheap, high-grade cocaine is flooding streets across Scotland for as little as £10 a bag.

Researchers said increased availability means cocaine is no longer a 'party' drug as more turn to it for a cheaper hit than heroin, fuelling a rapid rise in use. Cocaine-related drug deaths shot up from 45 in 2014 to 459 in 2020 dropping to 371 in 2022, according to the latest figures.

Deaths remain "exceptionally high", scientists said, ahead of new figures due out next month on deaths since 2023.

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