TWO MEN were involved in a “Breaking Bad” style drugs factory in Johnstone capable of churning hundreds of thousands of tablets dubbed 'The Blue Plague.'

James Carroll, 56, from Renfrew, and Michael Shek, 35, from Johnstone, ran the operation from a 4,000 square foot industrial unit in the town last April.

A white lorry and a black trailer found at the unit were essential to making etizolam tablets with a potential street value of more than £388,000.

Etizolam is a concern for law enforcement agencies because of its links to recent drug related deaths.

The pair are now behind bars after they pled guilty today at the High Court in Glasgow to being concerned in the supply of etizolam.

The court heard officers raided the unit in Mary Street on April 24, 2019.

Carroll was spotted washing a BMW car while Shek, wearing orange gloves and white dusty clothes, dropped a metal punch.

Tubs of powder, etizolam tablets, adulterant and magnesium stearate used to make drugs were removed from the lorry and the trailer.

Mixing powder, a metal guide and punches for a pill press were recovered from the office floor in the unit.

The powder recovered had the potential to produce 772,137 tablets worth up to £386,060.

A further 5,425 tablets were recovered which could reach a potential value of £2712.

Prosecutor Mark Mohammed said: “The premises had the potential to produce 10,595,125 etizolam tablets.”

Shek’s house was also searched and found to have a handbook for the lorry as well as £5645 in cash and a £9965 Rolex watch.

A search of Carroll’s property produced a negative result.

A further investigation found the pair’s DNA and fingerprints on the drug making equipment from the factory.

Defence counsel Joe Barr, defending Carroll, said: “He accepts he was the person responsible for what was happening at the unit.”

Defence counsel John McElroy, defending Shek, said: “He became involved  in an ad-hoc basis to come and fix the machine from time to time.”

Judge Lord Mulholland told the pair they pled guilty to “very serious charges.”

Sentence was deferred until next month pending background reports.

Read all the latest from Renfrewshire and beyond


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