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Inverness gangland boss made more than £767k from life of crime

By Ali Morrison

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Ryan Ferguson only has £10,040.39 available to hand over to the authorities at this point in time.
Ryan Ferguson only has £10,040.39 available to hand over to the authorities at this point in time.

An Inverness gangland boss who was caught after police intercepted his encrypted phone chats made more than £767,000 from his life of crime, a court has heard.

Ryan Ferguson (31) was snared after European detectives learned how to decode communications which were sent using a top secret app called EncroChat.

Continental law enforcement agencies discovered a treasure trove of information and passed onto their counterparts in the UK.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how Police Scotland officers learned that Ferguson was using the alias Titanium Otter on the app. They also learned he was using Highland woodlands to store thousands of pounds of illegal drugs.

Ferguson also directed other gang members to hide drugs at "stash sites" in woods in rural locations. Officers later found narcotics with an estimated street value of more than £492,000.

Ferguson was given a five-year and eight-month jail term after pleading guilty to supplying cocaine, cannabis and benzocaine and being involved in serious organised crime between June 2019 and September 2021.

Today, he returned to the High Court in Edinburgh for a short hearing to settle a proceeds of crime action which was raised by the Crown following his conviction.

Judge Alison Stirling was told that defence and prosecution lawyers had agreed that Ferguson had made a total of £767,576.37 from his life of crime.

They also agreed that he only had £10,040.39 available to hand over to the authorities at this point in time.

At earlier proceedings, Ferguson was also given a serious crime prevention order – a so-called Super Asbo – designed to curb criminal behaviour once released from prison.

The court heard earlier that Ferguson had previously been jailed twice for drug trafficking and money laundering offences.

He was freed from his last sentence in June 2019 and returned to offending shortly afterwards.

It emerged that he was arrested after police intercepted mobile phone conversations Ferguson held using an encryption device.

The discussions involved other criminals in north-east England and Glasgow and revealed the scope and the planning of Ferguson's operation.

Prosecutors said he orchestrated the delivery of significant quantities of drugs into the Highlands.

In one exchange, Ferguson was heard arranging a £75,000 payment to a courier as part of a handover of drugs in a factory car park.

On another occasion he was heard discussing the price of cocaine.

The court heard police made a number of seizures during their investigations.

In June 2020, a total of £142,098 of high purity cocaine was found hidden under moss in woods.

A further drugs haul worth £350,000 was discovered after two men linked to Ferguson were stopped in separate raids.

Ferguson was arrested at Glasgow Airport in June last year after arriving back from a holiday in Thailand with his partner.

Today, Judge Stirling made an order that the portion of the £10,040.39 held by the police in Fort William should be handed over to the sheriff clerk in Livingston. Ferguson is serving his sentence at HMP Addiewell, which is located close by.

Ferguson has six months to pay the remaining sum.

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