Tuesday, December 30, 2003

SNP call over smuggler escape

The Scottish National Party is demanding a government statement over the escape of a drug smuggler after he was moved to an open prison.

Rodderick McLean was involved a £10m drug smuggling operation between Scotland and Spain six years ago.

During his capture, a customs official was killed.

Perth MP Annabel Ewing is to table an emergency question in the House of Commons, demanding to know why he was placed in a low security jail.

McLean and his gang were caught off the Caithness coast, trying to smuggle cannabis into the country.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Tories urge methadone rethink

A sharp rise in the use of the heroin substitute methadone proves that the Scottish Executive's drugs policy is not working, according to the Tories.

A parliamentary answer by Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm showed that methadone prescriptions rose from 98,131 in 1994 to 360,326 in 2003.

Tory deputy leader Annabel Goldie said the executive should consider whether it was actually helping heroin addicts.

The cost of prescribing the drug has climbed from £600,000 to £4m.

Ms Goldie said she was "shocked and alarmed" by the statistics.

She urged the executive to reconsider whether methadone was the most effective way to help heroin users kick the habit.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Seven held in £5m drugs seizure

Seven people have been arrested, and up to £5m worth of drugs seized, at an industrial site in Dover.

Six men and a woman are being questioned after the substances were discovered in a lorry.

The early morning operation on Friday involved Kent Police, Merseyside Police, the National Crime Squad and Customs Officers.

The drugs were recovered from a heavy goods vehicle, which is understood to have disembarked from a ferry travelling from France.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Thai PM hails drug war success

Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has said a controversial war against drugs would continue, despite its claimed success.

Mr Thaksin told a rally in Bangkok that thousands of "bad people" had been arrested during the 10-month campaign.

He brushed off criticism from human rights groups that have accused police of murdering hundreds of suspected dealers.

Police have blamed most of the deaths on inter-gang violence.

Police say they have arrested about 90,000 people on drugs-related charges since the campaign started in February and have seized more than 40 million methamphetamine pills and assets worth 1.8bn baht ($45m) from suspected dealers.

"Some of the bad guys have died, and some of them are serving prison terms. I am ready to confront them in every way," Mr Thaksin said at a ceremony on Wednesday.

According to official statements, 2,245 drugs suspects were killed between 1 February and 30 April alone.