A gangster who was once said to be ‘rich enough to buy out Rolex’ made more than £126million from his life of crime, prosecutors claim.

James White was a member of an organised crime group known for its dealings in drugs, guns, serious violence and dirty money.

He was jailed for almost 10 years earlier this year after being extradited back to Scotland from Brazil.

Crown lawyers have now said they believe the 46-year-old made £126,241,001.29 during the time he acted as the kingpin of a gang branded ‘the most prolific and sophisticated in Scotland’.

A High Court hearing in Stirling was told White, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, was a top member of a gang run by brothers James and Barry Gillespie.

James White was a member of an organised crime group known for its dealings in drugs, guns, serious violence and dirty money

James White was a member of an organised crime group known for its dealings in drugs, guns, serious violence and dirty money

Police said in January that the Gillespies are believed to have been killed while on the run in South America.

The judge who jailed White, Lord Colbeck, said that for 10 years he had been a senior member of the organised crime group, which operated in Scotland and England, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil.

The judge, who imposed a jail term of nine years and 10 months, said White’s offending was ‘of the utmost seriousness, involving a degree of criminality seldom seen by the courts in Scotland’.

Prosecutors have launched a proceeds of crime against White with legal papers lodged by the Crown stating that it reckons White made £126million from his crime. The papers also state that prosecutors reckon they’ve identified £118,649.50 of White’s money which could be confiscated.

Prosecutors are seeking to recover the full amount and are continuing to investigate what has happened to the rest of the money.

The matter, which is being contested by White’s lawyers, will be heard in court next year.

James Gillespie

Barry Gillespie

A High Court hearing in Stirling was told White, of Gartcosh, Lanarkshire, was a top member of a gang run by brothers James (left) and Barry (right) Gillespie

A court earlier heard how White rose to take control of the gang, which forged links with other underworld figures across the globe.

He left Scotland when associates were arrested during ‘Operation Escalade’, Police Scotland’s probe into the group.

Becoming one of the UK’s most wanted men, he was initially caught, using a false passport, in Italy in 2020. Police there mistakenly let him go and he escaped to South America. 

After a large-scale manhunt, he was found again, several months later, by armed police in rented accommodation in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza using the name Vincent McCall, of Suriname.

White pleaded guilty in June to directing serious and organised crime, from May 2013 to March this year.

His trial heard that one of White’s main roles was running the gang’s drugs operation, responsible for distribution around Europe.

He was linked to a £10million cocaine seizure after a lorry was stopped by Border Force officials in Dover in November 2017.

It had arrived from Spain bound for a fake company set up by the gang in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The court heard how hidden spaces in the truck had been constructed to conceal 90 taped blocks of cocaine. It emerged 16 other shipments to Rochdale had been made over the previous two years.

The hearing was also told White was aware of cars and premises being used to hide firearms and dirty money

The hearing was also told White was aware of cars and premises being used to hide firearms and dirty money

White later directed an associate to set up another fake business in Glasgow to help continue trafficking narcotics from abroad.

The hearing was also told White was aware of cars and premises being used to hide firearms and dirty money.

These included sub-machine guns, Glock pistols, an M75 fragmentation hand grenade, bullets, silencers, and £1.7m of cash. Anti surveillance gadgets were also found.

The court heard how he exchanged 33,000 encrypted texts to 70 associates in just two months in 2020, issuing orders. This included, in April of that year, him arranging to ‘petrol bomb’ a site in Portugal and later to ‘slash’ someone.

The court heard an associate told White: ‘You have that much money you could probably buy Rolex out.’

The proceeds case will next call at the High Court in Edinburgh on January 8, 2024.

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