Former Scottish top flight footballer who boasted of selling £2 million worth of cocaine a month is jailed for seven years
- Ex-Hearts player Paul MacDonald and accomplice Craig Balloch, 30, were jailed
A former footballer who boasted he was selling almost £2million of cocaine a month has been jailed for seven years.
Paul MacDonald, 35, and 30-year-old accomplice Craig Balloch were snared by detectives who discovered damning encrypted texts which helped pin them to the lucrative trafficking.
Ex-Hearts player MacDonald returned to the High Court in Glasgow with Balloch yesterday.
They had each pleaded guilty to a charge of being involved in serious organised crime between February 2019 and June 2020. MacDonald – who represented Scotland at youth level – had a previous conviction for cocaine supply in 2017.
Sentencing, Lady Stacey told him: ‘You do not need me to tell you that [this involved] a great deal of money. The drugs concerned were class A and you now realise that these things cause havoc in people’s lives.’
Former footballer Paul MacDonald (pictured), who boasted he was selling almost £2million of cocaine a month, has been jailed for seven years
Balloch, of Rutherglen, near Glasgow, was locked up for seven years and six months. The judge said he had been involved in a ‘safe house’ for the crime and had handled large quantities of cash.
A hearing last month was told MacDonald had been seen in a drugs handover in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, in March 2019.
His home in the town was later searched and police seized several phones. They contained texts about trafficking ‘tops’ – meaning cocaine – and ‘bots’ – a term for heroin.
The pair also used a woman’s house to store cash. She was later arrested and police seized £444,000 from the property.
Detectives made a breakthrough after French and Dutch law authorities smashed the EncroChat messaging service favoured by criminals, including MacDonald and Balloch.
Prosecutor John McElroy, KC, said recovered messages ‘detail involvement in the sale and supply of drugs including heroin, cocaine and cannabis on a significant scale’.
A hearing last month was told MacDonald had been seen in a drugs handover in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, in March 2019
Ex-Hearts star MacDonald hid thousands of pounds in drugs money at safe houses in Glasgow
In one text MacDonald stated he ‘sells approximately 50kg of top quality cocaine a month’.
The value of this would have been £1.9million a time.
In a further message he boasted: ‘We still got million odd quid after bills are paid.’
The pair were arrested in November 2021.
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