TWO Kilwinning men who were part of a UK-wide drugs gang have been jailed for their involvement in the conspiracy.

James McLaughlan, 43, was jailed for 14 years and four months and James Clark, 48, was jailed for seven years and seven months for their part in the nationwide operation.

A third man, Steven Clark, 42, of Castle Avenue, Stevenson, was also jailed for seven years and two months for his involvement.

McLaughlan and Clark, both of Hazeldene Park, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs – cocaine and MDMA –and conspiracy to supply Class B drugs – cannabis and amphetamine – at Liverpool Crown Court last week.

Steven Clark also pled guilty to the same charges.

The three men were part of a 21-man gang who were sentenced to a total of 159 years behind bars for their involvement in the sophisticated drug dealing operation which stretched across the UK.

Two men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, headed the gang, making all the top business decisions, and who spent a lot of time abroad.

Those men are believed to have fled out of the UK to prevent getting caught.

Officers from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU), also known as Titan, undertook an 18 month investigation into the conspiracy which culminated in series of warrants being executed across Scotland, Liverpool, Bristol, Wales, Cheshire and Milton Keynes in September last year.

During the conspiracy officers seized cocaine to the value of £66,480, amphetamine to the value of £336,080, MDMA and ecstasy to the value of £208,040 and a total of £80,135 in cash in England, 21 kilograms of cannabis to the value of between £210,210 - £420,420 and a stun gun.

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Hussey said: “Our message to those involved in drug supply is that you cannot escape justice and there are no borders, we will work with other forces to relentlessly pursue those profiting from serious organised crime.

“No-one should have to put up with drug dealing and the associated violence and gun crime it often brings.

“This sentencing is the culmination of a long-running and complex operation in relation to suspected cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA supply which we have been investigating since January 2016.

“I am happy to see that these men will now spend a considerable amount of time behind bars and we have stopped a significant operation which was flooding the streets of the UK with Class A drugs.

“We will work with our communities to improve the quality of life for decent, law-abiding people and I would urge people to keep helping us do that by reporting any drug dealing or gun crime to the police or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”