A former footballer who bragged about selling almost £2million worth of cocaine every month has been jailed for seven years.
Paul MacDonald, 35, and accomplice Craig Balloch, 30, were trapped by detectives who discovered damning coded texts that helped them carry out the lucrative deal.
Ex-Hearts player MacDonald returned to the High Court in 2011 Glasgow with Balloch yesterday.
They had each pleaded guilty to charges of participating in a serious organization crime between February 2019 and June 2020. MacDonald – who represented Scotland at youth level – had previously been convicted of cocaine trafficking in 2017.
At the sentencing, Lady Stacey told him: “I don’t have to tell you.” [this involved] a lot of money. These were Class A drugs and you now realize that these things have a devastating impact on people’s lives.
Former footballer Paul MacDonald (pictured), who bragged about selling almost £2million worth of cocaine a month, has been jailed for seven years
Balloch, from Rutherglen, near Glasgow, was jailed for seven years and six months. The judge said he was involved in a “safe house” for the crime and handled large amounts of cash.
At a hearing last month it was revealed that MacDonald had been seen making a drug delivery in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, in March 2019.
His home in the city was later searched and police confiscated several phones. They included lyrics about trafficking “tops” – meaning cocaine – and “bots” – a term for heroin.
The couple also used a woman’s home to store cash. She was later arrested and police seized £444,000 from the property.
Investigators made a breakthrough after French and Dutch legal authorities dismantled EncroChat, the messaging service favored by criminals including MacDonald and Balloch.
Prosecutor John McElroy, KC, said the recovered messages were “detailedly implicated in the sale and supply of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis on a significant scale”.
At a hearing last month it was revealed that MacDonald had been seen making a drug delivery in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, in March 2019
Ex-Hearts star MacDonald hid thousands of pounds of drug money in Glasgow safe houses
In one text, MacDonald stated that he “sells approximately 50kg of high quality cocaine per month.”
The value of each would have been £1.9 million.
In another message he boasted: “We still have a million pounds after the bills are paid.”
The couple was arrested in November 2021.