Gang who made 1.6 million 'street Valium' pills in Paisley garage jailed

Image source, Police scotland
Image caption,
Clockwise from top left: Ingle, Conway, McGaw and Reid

A drugs gang who produced at least £1.67m worth of "street valium" from a garage in Paisley have been jailed.

Scott McGaw, 33, and Eric Reid, 45, made etizolam tablets "on an industrial scale" using a pill-pressing machine between May 2016 and March 2017.

They were jailed for five years and five-and-a-half years respectively at the High Court in Glasgow.

Co-accused Harry Ingle, 41, and Nicholas Conway, 45, were sentenced to five-and-a-half years and three years.

Media caption,
Police say the illegal drugs factory is thought to be one of the biggest in the UK

Judge Lord Burns said: "This drug was being produced on an industrial scale. You must have one of the major sources of what was described as a flood of this drug into Scotland.

"You were aware it would be illegal to produce this drug which has potential to cause serious harm to people who abuse it."

Image source, Crown Office
Image caption,
The gang used a £20,000 pill-pressing machine

A trial was told that McGaw, from Paisley, provided the money to set up the operation and Reid, from Johnstone, rented the premises and organised the delivery of materials.

McGaw and Reid claimed they walked away from the operation when etizolam changed from being classed a "legal high" to an illegal drug on 26 May 2016.

The court heard the £20,000 pill-pressing machine they used was capable of producing 250,000 tablets an hour.

Image source, crown office
Image caption,
The drugs were said to have been produced "on an industrial scale"

When police raided the garage, they found 1,676,094 etizolam pills, which are sometimes sold as fake valium and dubbed the blue plague.

The court heard Ingle, from Reading, Berkshire, and Conway, from London, were found at the garage in Back Sneddon Street, Paisley.

Image source, crown office

They were wearing forensic suits which were covered in blue dust, and initially claimed they were cleaners.

Det Con Greig Baxter told the trial: "This was the biggest production of etizolam I've ever attended.

"I know of no-one who has come across a pill press operation as large as this in the UK."