Pubdate: Sat, 7 Nov 1998
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 


A NETWORK of drug dealers, with direct links to the notorious Yardie
gangs of Jamaican criminals operating in the English Midlands, has
moved into Fraserburgh, the new heroin capital of Scotland.

Afro-Caribbean drug barons, supplying heroin and crack cocaine, are
targeting that Banff and Buchan area to secure a lucrative base for
their operations in the north-east, where the market is estimated to
be worth UKP10 million a week.

Their infiltration of the area has prompted fears of a violent turf
war breaking out between rival drug gangs, with links to underworld
leaders in Glasgow and Liverpool, in the battle to dominate the trade.

Gangs of Yardies have had a virtual stranglehold on the crack cocaine
market for more than a decade. The highly addictive drug is already
being sold in the pups and clubs of the Broch [Newshawk note: Broch is
the local nickname for Fraserburgh] at UKP50 per crystal, The Scotsman
can reveal.

The arrival of supplies of crack cocaine in the towns and villages
along the Buchan coast is threatening to spawn an even more deadly
drugs epidemic in the area.

This week, a report published by Grampian Health Board revealed that
Fraserburgh already has the highest percentage of opiate users in Scotland.

Researchers at the centre for drug misuse research at Glasgow
University have estimated that 2.5 per cent of the town's population,
aged between 14 and 54, are regularly using heroin and other opiates -
the highest figure ever recorded in Scotland.

Even by conservative estimates, the illegal drug market in Banff and
Buchan is worth UKP300,000 a day, making the area an obvious target
for criminal gangs.

An informed source said that Afro-Caribbean dealers, with direct links
to Yardie gangs in the Midlands, had begun penetrating the area and
had been seen operating in Fraserburgh and Banff.

Two known dealers, based in Fraserburgh, are understood to be dealing
directly with a drugs gang based in the Midlands, one of the main
centres of operations for the Yardies.

The source, who did not wish to be identified, said: "I am convinced
that the Yardies are behind the move into Fraserburgh. And the big men
at the top are really bad guys."

The Midlands dealers are supplying crack cocaine and heroin to street
dealers, moving in and out of the area as supply and demand dictate.

Drug agency workers are already dealing with the consequences of
serious crack cocaine use in the area as the highly addictive cocaine
derivative becomes the drug of choice for many young adults in the

One agency worker said: "Because they are moving from heroin, a
depressant drug, on to a high stimulant drug, which crack cocaine is,
they are turning to cocaine as a first step.

"If you are a heroin user, going from heroin to crack is like going
from lemonade to whisky. And a lot of heroin users are using cocaine
to get into the crack scene.

"Crack cocaine is now a serious problem in the area. And at the prices
the dealers are charging - UKP50 a crystal - that is serious money for
the gangsters involved."

Experts are finding it difficult to estimate how much the illegal
drugs trade is worth in the north-east.

However, with an estimated 3,600 men and women regularly using
opiates, according to the health board report, the rewards for the
drug gangs are enormous.

Heroin addicts can each spend upwards of UKPl00 a day to satisfy their

Detective Chief Inspector Sandy Kelman, who is in charge of the

special units of Grampian police, including the force's drug squad,
said the growing trade in heroin was a matter of grave concern.

He said that the supplies of illegal drugs were coming from various
parts of the country, primarily Glasgow and Liverpool.

Although he made clear that he was not aware of the Yardies' direct
involvement in the area, he said: "There is a network of drug dealing
and it has to start somewhere.

"Yardie gangs operate down south and there is little doubt that the
drugs they are involved in might very well end up in Aberdeen or

However, Det Chief Insp Kelman stressed that he did not wish to
comment on any matter which might affect Grampian police operations.

He appealed for anyone with information about the alleged involvement
of Yardie gangs to contact the police.

He said: "If that is the case then Grampian police would be looking
for help from members of the public to come forward with information.
They should contact us so we can start tackling the problem before it
gets out of hand."

The threat posed by crack cocaine and violent drugs gangs operating in
the north-east was highlighted three weeks ago at a drug enforcement
conference in Dunblane, organised by the Association of Chief Police
Officers in Scotland.

Detective Sergeant William McColl, of the Grampian drug squad, told
the conference: "The market for crack is a lucrative one, but an
unstable one. Those who supply it are associated with serious violence."

He revealed that the force's intelligence showed heroin users had
developed a crack habit after being offered the drug free as rival
gangs tried to corner the market.

Det Sgt McColl said: "The fear is that violence will now be used to
enforce territory. The north-east of Scotland is in the grip of
vicious dealers. They are not replacing heroin on the streets, but are
using crack to complement the market."

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Checked-by: Rich O'Grady