Highland drugs courier forfeits thousands at Inverness court
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A Romanian citizen claimed he met an Albanian stranger in an Edinburgh bar who paid him £200 a day to sell drugs in the Highlands.
But 20 year old Gheorghe Prodaniuc, who was staying on the Waverly Inn in Dingwall was spotted in his car waiting in a car park in Upper Kessock Street, Inverness and officers were suspicious.
Fiscal depute Adele Gray told Inverness Sheriff Court: "Due to an ongoing 999 call, the officers were unable to check out the car, and put out a look-out request to colleagues.
"It was later seen on the A9, stopped and he appeared nervous to officers and fiddling with his wrist band. Money and two mobile phones could be seen in the car.
"He was detained and £1130 in cash were found. The car was taken to Burnett Road Police Station and a further two wraps of cocaine with a value of £100 each were discovered.
"A search of his hotel room revealed a further £3,700." Mrs Gray added.
Prodaniuc previously admitted being concerned in the supply of drugs in Inverness on January 8, 2024 and sentence was deferred for a background report.
He was interviewed by social workers but had to surrender his passport in order to get bail.
Defence solicitor advocate Mike Chapman told Sheriff Gary Aitken: "He tells me the £1070 was drugs money but the £3,700 was personal money he had earned while in Belgium and took with him."
Sheriff Aitken was sceptical about this claim and the Romanian's explanation of how he became involved.
"So he stumbles into an Edinburgh pub, an Albanian offers him £200 and he immediately accepts. By getting £200 a day to be a drugs courier, he seems to have played a quite important role and he was eager to take it.
"Turning up in a strange city and deciding to get involved in drug dealing is a grave lapse of judgement and leaves the court with very few options on how to deal with this."
The Sheriff heard Podaniuc intended to go to London and stay with a friend, and that he would do unpaid work south of the border.
However Sheriff Aitken doubted that he would carry out the order or indeed remain in the country.
He decided to forfeit all £4,830 which the police took possession of, despite Podaniuc's claim the bulk of it was personal cash.
He told him: "I am not sure whether or not the £3,700 was legitimately obtained but it will make a good contribution for this offence."