A CLACKS drug dealer who played a “significant part” in manufacturing ecstasy and MDMA has been jailed for almost four years.

Connor Smith, 25, was caught by detectives who received intelligence regarding a major drug dealing operation across the central belt.

The High Court in Edinburgh previously heard how officers established the man they were looking for was Smith during an intelligence led initiative called Operation Thuban.

Police raided a property in Clackmannanshire and found a pill press, ecstasy in powder form, and 65 kilos of a bulking agent.

The story emerged after Smith, a prisoner of HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to being involved in the supply of ecstasy between July 2017 and October 2018 on Wednesday.

The offences took place at addresses in the Wee County, including Clackmannan and Alloa.

Prosecution lawyer Liam Ewing had told the court that officers raided a house in Clacks on December 28, 2017 and detained an individual, who wasn’t named in court.

They found a pill press and MDMA powder that if was made into tablet form would have a street value of £60,000.

Mr Ewing said: “It was not possible on the information available to assess how many tablets had been produced by the press but it is estimated that the potential annual output from the press could potentially realise a figure between £390,000 and £1,300,000.”

Mr Ewing told the court that the person who was detained by police identified Smith as being the man who owned the pill press.

Forensic officers also recovered his fingerprints from the press and the bag of bulking agent.

Police also found Smith’s fingerprints on a bags of drugs seized from another individual who was later jailed for four years.

On August 24, 2018, the police finally caught up with Smith when a car he was travelling in was stopped in Admiralty Road, Rosyth.

Police found 2,000 ecstasy tablets in his possession. Meanwhile, colleagues established that Smith had purchased the pill press from a firm called LFA Machines. He spent a total of £4,509.99 with the firm.

He also spent £600 buying stamps for the pills. The stamps had the logos for designer clothes firm Stone Island and Nike’s Air Max brand.

Mr Ewing said: “During the course of the operation there were a number of recoveries by police from other individuals which the police then linked to the accused as a supplier.

“The police inquiries established that the accused was concerned in the manufacture and distribution of ecstasy tablets.

“However, he thereafter admitted that he had purchased the pill press recovered from the Clackmannanshire address and he had been producing ecstasy tablets using it.

“He had purchased items from LFA Machines including a pill press and bulking agent.

“He purchased 13 pill stamps from a firm called LDN Metal Works and that one of these stamps was a Stone Island stamp.”

On returning to court today [Wednesday, March 6], Smith’s defence agent, Krista Johnston, told the court that her client was incriminated by another individual, was “used” and felt “duped” by others.

Ms Johnston also said Smith suffered a serious assault as people put “pressure” on him to carry out these criminal activities.

Judge Lord Pentland interjected to ask if Ms Johnston “disputes the prisoner played a significant part”, to which she replied: “Of course not.”

The judge continued to say: “He chose not to disassociate himself or report things to police.”

The defence solicitor added that Smith “felt relief when matters came to a head” and expressed remorse for his part in the operation.

In sentencing, Lord Pentland said: “It is clear you were involved over a period of time. This court makes clear you should receive a substantial sentence.”

Smith was sentenced to 46 months in prison, backdated to October 9.

This sentence means he could be eligible for a supervised release programme, with one-yearar requirement upon his liberation.

Detective Sergeant Jamie Hughes from Forth Valley Proactive CID said: "Connor Smith profited from selling harmful MDMA to communities in Forth Valley and Fife and his arrest was only possible thanks to vital intelligence we received from the public.

"His sentence should serve as a very clear reminder that tackling all forms of serious and organised crime, which includes drug offences, is a Police Scotland priority and we will utilise all resources at its disposal to bring those responsible to justice.

"Our communities have a pivotal role to play in helping us tackle crimes of this nature by coming forward with information. This can be done either by calling us on 101, or by making an anonymous report to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."