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Waste firm acted as cover for drugs operation

A former director of a recycling company in Scotland has been sentenced for waste offences after his firm was used as a front for an illegal drugs operation.

Platinum Waste Solutions in Shotts was set up by James Nisbet to mask a heroin smuggling ring. 

The operation was shut down by Police Scotland’s Operation Lapstone and £1.1m of illegal drugs were recovered. In October 2015, Nisbet and six others were convicted to a combined sentence of 48 years and 10 months imprisonment.

Now the waste company’s director, Sarah Nisbet, wife of James Nisbet, has been penalised for breaching waste management legislation.

She was sentenced to 200 hours’ unpaid work within six months and is subject to supervision for 18 months as an alternative to a custodial sentence.

This follows her being handed a confiscation order of £16,546.50 under the Proceeds of Crime Act in November.

Sarah Nisbet pleaded guilty in June 2015 at Hamilton Sheriff Court to a charge of storing waste at the company’s site at Burnbrae Road, Shotts, between January and August 2014, without the proper authorisation from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

The company, now dissolved, pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to adequately complete waste transfer notes for the transfer of waste on various dates between October 2013 and February 2014.

A series of inspections carried out by Sepa officers in January 2014, found skips full of construction and household waste stored at the company’s site contrary to the requirements of waste management licensing exemptions registered for the site.

Sepa said many of the waste transfer notes provided by the company had not been filled in correctly, with information such as the quantity of waste omitted.

But Sepa said only some of the waste was removed by the company, so the regulator submitted a report to the Procurator Fiscal recommending the prosecution of both the company and Sarah Nisbet.

Calum MacDonald (pictured below), Sepa executive director, said: “This outcome is also a tangible demonstration of successful collaborative working with Police Scotland and early evidence of the benefits of Sepa embedding staff within the Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh.

“The Scottish Government’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy highlights penetration by serious organised crime groups in legitimate business sectors as a new threat, specifically identifying the waste industry as a target of this criminal activity in Scotland.

“Operation Lapstone provided clear evidence that that this threat is manifest and we will continue to work with the police and our other partners within the Environmental Crime Taskforce to tackle these individuals and groups to combat the threat posed on the legitimate industry within Scotland.”

James Nisbet’s brother Stephen ran the heroin operation from his cell at HMP Edinburgh, where he is serving an 18-year sentence for murder. Stephen Nisbet was convicted on three drugs-related charges at Glasgow High Court in August 2015.


Calum MacDonald

Source: Sepa

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