Police Scotland officers have seized drugs with a street value of more than £3 million in a series of targeted operations across central Scotland.
The activity took place over a period of nine days in early December and led to eighteen people being arrested.
In the series of operations, specialist officers targeted five organised crime groups, and seized significant amounts of drugs including cocaine, heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and counterfeit prescription tablets.
Drugs with a street value in excess of £2.7million were found at one location in Glasgow. Officers also found a highly sophisticated mobile drug production laboratory in a van in what's thought to be the first discovery of its kind in Scotland. Equipment including a hydraulic press, moulds, and bulking agents were uncovered in the vehicle alongside a significant quantity of Class A substances.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean, Head of Police Scotland's Organised Crime and Counter-Terrorism Unit, said, "This series of raids represents a considerable success for Police Scotland in its endeavours to reduce the activities of some of the most dangerous organised crime groups in Scotland, who target some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
"They are the result of a concerted effort by specialist officers within the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit - working alongside local teams and partners including HM Revenue & Customs, the National Crime Agency and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service - to target those groups which pose the greatest threat and cause substantial harm to our communities. These criminals only care about themselves and their profits and they have to be stopped. As a result of these operations, we are reducing the availability of hard drugs to the Scottish public, addressing an issue which is a blight on the country.
"Members of the public have told us the activities of serious and organised criminal groups are a key concern to them, and our officers, locally and nationally, are dedicated to eradicating the risk posed by the illegal actions of these gangs, which can decimate communities.
"We use a range of intelligence leads, many of which come directly from affected communities which have decided enough is enough and they aren't prepared to tolerate these criminal activities anymore. Police Scotland works hard to build trust and confidence with communities to encourage people to come forward, via 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers.
"One small piece of information about an address or a vehicle or a person can be what makes all the difference in an investigation which could result in the unravelling of one of these gangs."
As a result of these operations, and specialist teams observing drug trends and identifying new and emerging threats, officers have noted an increase in the prevalence of crack cocaine and the ongoing trade in illegally produced counterfeit prescription medication.