Police seize record amount of cash from crime gangs
Police officers have seized their highest ever amount of cash from organised crime groups in Scotland in a single year.
The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) recovered £1.25m over the past 12 months.
The figure is more than six times the amount recovered in the previous year.
The agency said the amount of money recovered could potentially have been used to buy about 56kg of heroin or 27kg of cocaine.
The majority of the cash was seized in raids on property and vehicle stops, including £40,000 seized from a goods vehicle on its way to France and almost £90,000 seized from the home of a drug courier in England.
Strathclyde Police officers also recovered more than £200,000 after stopping a car during a drugs investigation last June.
Police said they had been been targeting "working cash" - the money used to pay for the drugs that are then sold on.
These working cash seizures are in addition to the assets of criminals identified by the SCDEA through their operations under proceeds of crime legislation.
The SCDEA said cash seizures had already caused significant disruption to the drug supply chain.
Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Meldrum, SCDEA director general, said: "Serious organised criminals are only interested in profit and power and they crave cash to help them buy both.
"So by taking out these huge amounts of cash from their operations, we know that it will be throwing them into turmoil. They will have to backtrack on commitments, pull out of deals, and launder more funding to replace the cash."
He added: "That will hurt them in the pocket, make them look less influential, and force them to take more risks. And when they take those risks, they will again find us waiting for them."
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the amount of cash recovered in the past year was "excellent news for decent people across Scotland".
He added: "It is absolutely vital that our police and law enforcement agencies continue to disrupt or smash serious organised crime networks."