Scotland’s top gangster James “The Don” White could be out of prison in just six years for running a global drugs empire.
A judge said the 46-year-old leading actor deserved a far harsher sentence but was forced to break a leave of absence due to criminal laws.
White, from Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, trafficked cocaine and guns on three continents.
He was caged less than 10 years but could be released in less than six years if he behaves.
White was described in court as a “naturally polite and cultured man” – having served less than 10 years in prison.
And the boss of Scotland’s most prolific organized crime gang is already looking forward to a comfortable life out of prison, according to his solicitor – after the gangster’s prison sentence was limited by criminal law.
Cocaine boss White’s crime network stretched across three continents to Brazil, where he was caught in June 2020.
The 46-year-old gangster from Gartcosh, Lanarkshire previously pleaded guilty to money laundering, importing millions of dollars in drugs and possession of weapons and explosives.
But his lawyer told Stirling High Court that the crime boss, who appeared via video link from Addiewell prison, was “determined to put his past behind him”.
Donald Findlay KC claimed, “He is a naturally polite and cultured man.”
White served nine years and 10 months in prison but could be released within six years — since felons can be released on license two-thirds of their sentences.
Shadow Conservative Justice Secretary Russell Findlay said: “This major drug dealer has for a decade been at the center of a corrupt enterprise that has caused countless deaths in our communities. This has no deterrent effect, just a minor occupational hazard.”
White’s criminal record
- Directing others to import and ship millions of pounds worth of controlled drugs
- Guide to violent crimes and handling firearms
- Organization and execution of the kidnapping and attack on Robert Allan
- Has a stash of forbidden firearms, including auto pistols and submachine guns, and a frag grenade
- Building hideouts in different rooms and vehicles
- Possession of false ID and mistakenly obtained real passport documents
- Direct and cause others to obtain them to avoid detection by law enforcement and arrest
- Directing others to bring large quantities of controlled drugs into prison.
Lord Colbeck admitted he was uneasy about the length of the proceedings, stating: “I am limited by the maximum sentence available.”
White showed no emotion as three supporters, two women and one man, watched from the bleachers.
His lawyer revealed that the father of two in prison was keen to continue a relationship with a woman who was not named in court.
The court heard that White was at the head of a worldwide drug, gun and dirty money gang.
Lord Colbeck told him: “The offense committed by the culprit is of the utmost seriousness and involves a degree of criminality seldom seen by the courts in Scotland.”
White’s theorem explained
The maximum sentence the court can get for “instruction of serious organized crime” is 14 years.
Lord Colbek concluded that “the level of crime” would have warranted a prison sentence of “over 14 years”.
However, legal restrictions limited the maximum sentence the judge imposed to 14 years.
The judge must also accept an admission of guilt as no trial is required.
He also understood that White was wanted by Interpol as of 2018 and was trying to avoid extradition from Brazil.
Then 20% discount from the 14-year term to 11 years and two months.
Grants further reduction for one year and four months in Brazilian prison, leaving nine years and ten months to serve.
Time spent in Scottish prison was ignored over White’s child egg drug smuggling plot.
We reported last month how Glasgow High Court heard White rose to lead the gang after the disappearance of former bosses James, 50, and Barry Gillespie, 46, who both died in Brazil.
White was arrested in Fortaleza as part of Operation Escalade – Scotland’s police investigation into “the most prolific” criminal gang.
Kenny Donnelly, Assistant Crown Agent specializing in casework, said: “This case shows that justice does not end at the border.”
“We will vigorously use all avenues in multiple jurisdictions to bring criminals to justice in Scotland.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Vicky Watson, head of organized crime at Scottish Police, said: “As part of one of Scotland’s most prolific organized crime groups, White thought he was above the law and even fled the country to evade justice. “
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