An extradited serious crime group leader who orchestrated the importation of controlled drugs from South America to Scotland has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Paul Fleming, 39, was jailed at the High Court in Stirling after admitting directing numerous other gangland associates in Serious Organised Crime.
The court heard that the father-of-four was a key figure behind an elaborate scheme to flood Scotland with cocaine from Brazil, Colombia, and Bolivia.
He was also instrumental in setting up a fake company to smuggle drugs from Spain to Scotland inside solar panels.
But his plots were thwarted following the arrest and convictions of several men linked to Fleming who were involved in the distribution of drugs and money-laundering offences.
Two intelligence-led Police Scotland operations, Operation Fertile and Operation Buggy, revealed the full extent of Fleming’s involvement.
Prosecutors told the court how Fleming left Scotland for Spain with his family in October 2018 after he and his wife were arrested.
This came after a police search of his car revealed £37,000 in cash while £50,000 worth of luxury watches were also found in his home.
A complex multi-agency operation, involving prosecutors, Police Scotland and Spanish authorities followed, and in June 2022 he was arrested in Alicante. Fleming was then extradited back to Scotland from Spain last March.
Sineidin Corrins, Deputy Procurator Fiscal for Specialist Casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “This was a brazen and coordinated effort to smuggle significant quantities of illegal and harmful drugs into Scotland.
“However, this conviction serves to reinforce the determination of prosecutors to protect communities from the harm that these drugs inflict on people’s lives.
“The public can have confidence in the response of the justice system to combat Serious Organised Crime and in our resoluteness to prosecute and convict high-profile nominals.
“We continue to target all those who threaten communities across Scotland, working as a key part of the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce to protect the people of Scotland.”
Katie Stewart, who leads on international co-operation for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said:
“Fleming's conviction underlines the importance of COPFS working closely and collaboratively with international justice partners to robustly pursue those who break the law and ensure they are fully held to account for their crimes.
“The extradition of Fleming shows that such close working relationships between foreign authorities delivers justice for Scottish communities blighted by Serious Organised Crime.”