Sneaky Dark Web gangsters have set up drug mail order services to flood every corner of Scotland with cocaine, speed and ecstasy, we can reveal today.

Soaring numbers of potentially deadly packages are being found in the post especially in remote areas such as Shetland which have previously escaped the ravages of drugs.

Crime experts found more than 1300 packages were intercepted containing a cocktail of drugs including cocaine, cannabis, benzodiazepines such as Temazepam and Diazepam, and Ecstasy.

They found that “postal drugs delivery reflects both relatively high use in more urban, more deprived areas but also seems to open up more remote regions to drug markets.”

Criminologist Dr Ben Matthews, of Edinburgh University, said: “We looked at the geographical spread of around 1300 drugs packages identified being delivered into Scotland into the post from overseas.

“The highest package delivery rates by local authority were, in order, Aberdeen City, Western Isles and Dundee City. We only have records of intercepted drugs so the actual number of packages sent and received will be larger.

“We found that the highest package delivery rates were in the most urbanised local authorities in Scotland such as Aberdeen City, City of Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling, but also some of the most remote like the Western Isles, Shetland and Highland.

“The high rates in Western Isles and Shetland might show that digital drugs marketplaces were opening up access to drugs markets in areas where supply was more limited in offline markets.

“The packages that were identified were also very varied in size - from a few grams to multiple kilograms. The larger packages tended to be of lower class drugs.

So that indicates that most of these packages were low-level, probably personal use but with a small number of packages that were probably related to commercial supply.”

His research team used data from the National Crime Agency (NCA) which showed that 1374 packages were intercepted between April 2011 and January 2016. The packages contained cannabis products, benzodiazepines such as ‘jellies’ and MDMA or Ecstasy.

Other drugs discovered included: amphetamines, cocaine, GBL, hallucinogens, Ketamine, Khat, Mephedrone, methamphetamine and steroids.

Packages suspected of containing illegal drugs are flagged up by parcel handlers or members of the UK Border Force based on appearance, country of origin and the current intelligence picture of where the commodity is being sourced.

They are X-rayed and suspicious packages are opened for examination. If a possible illegal substance is detected, a sample is tested using a mass spectrometer and, if it proves to be an illegal drug, border force officials notify the NCA.

Dr Matthews added: “Digital drugs markets are hard area to research because it’s clandestine by nature. So it’s novel to be able to get this glimpse into how these digital drugs markets are used, and particularly to look at where the packages were going.

“Obviously people tend not to advertise this. As far as we know this is the first time this has been done.”

Detective Superintendent Craig Willison said: “Any form of illegal drugs supply is unacceptable and the individuals involved clearly have no regard for the damage they are causing to communities.

“Police Scotland will continue to use all resources at its disposal to target and disrupt this type of criminality and any information regarding dealers using the postal system to distribute illegal drugs will be thoroughly investigated."

The news of the mail order drugs study comes after sniffer dogs patrolling Scots islands helped police seize £250,000 worth of drugs last year.

In November, hauls by dogs working with charity handlers and police included £125,363 of narcotics and cash on Shetland, £62,000 of drugs on Orkney and nearly £56,000 worth in the Western Islands.

Police praised their work and say it helped them catch dealers switching to mail order drugs during the pandemic.