drugs gang scots
(Clockwise from top left) Barry O'Neill, David Sell, Gerard Docherty, Francis Mulligan, Steven McArdle and Martyn Fitzsimmons admitted a range of charges. Police Scotland

A nine-man drugs gang behind underworld kidnappings and shootings were dubbed "the most sophisticated" group of its kind ever seen by police in Scotland.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how the gang after they admitted a range of charges linked to the importation of class A drugs and firearms.

The court heard on Monday (11 December) how the gang acted as wholesalers to other dealers and were behind the horrific abduction, torture and shooting of a man over an unpaid cocaine debt.

Police also found a huge haul of weapons in a car and linked one of the gang to a shooting at the home of a man in Edinburgh.

With criminal activity spanning from 2013 to this year they were found to have used counter surveillance and anti-surveillance tactics, including encrypted mobile phones and signal jammers.

David Sell, 50, Barry O'Neill, 37, Anthony Woods, 44, Francis Mulligan, 41, Michael Bowman, 30, Mark Richardson 30, Gerard Docherty, 42, Steven McArdle, 33, and Martyn Fitzsimmons, 37, had earlier pleaded guilty to various charges.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC told the court according to The Sun: "The organised crime group is the most sophisticated encountered by Police Scotland. Their operation centres on the importation of vast quantities of cocaine.

"Their role is as wholesalers to other organised crime groups. They are at the top of the chain in terms of drugs transactions in Scotland and the UK as a whole."

Prentice added: "The firepower at the disposal of this crime group is unprecedented in terms of the history of organised crime in Scotland."

The court heard about the kidnap and torture of Robert Allan during the hearing. It was stated that Allan failed to pay for £30,000 worth of drugs, fleeing from Glasgow to Barnsley.

He was located and kidnapped by David Sell and two other armed men threatened with a handgun, bound together with rope, whipped with a chain, smacked with a metal bar and sledgehammer and left with a broken leg.

Allan was then stripped, sprayed with bleach taken to a rural spot near East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire then blasted three times in his knees with a gun.

Sell admitted being involved in the abduction and O'Neill plead guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine.

During the investigation police linked the gang to a shooting at the home of Robert Kelbie in Ratho, Edinburgh, in September 2016.

The court heard that Docherty fired shots into the conservatory of the cottage where Kelbie was at home with his ex-partner, two children, his mother and sister, reported the Edinburgh Evening News.

Police used DNA to link Docherty to the scene and then made a discovery of a massive arsenal of deadly firearms at a lock-up which included Glocks, a Beretta, sub machine guns, a grenade and bullets.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean, head of Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism, said: "The nine men who pled guilty were involved in the most serious criminal activity, including firearms, drug dealing and extreme violence.

"They were responsible for bringing fear and misery to communities across Scotland and we welcome the fact that they have been brought to justice and admitted their involvement in the face of a wealth of evidence.

Their sentences have been deferred until 22 January to allow for the preparation of background reports.