The thug who lured gangland murder victim Gary More to his death was a key figure in crime clan allegedly run by two brothers wanted by police.
Neil Anderson was closely linked to Gillespie brothers James and Barry, who detectives believe head a multi-million pound drug and gun empire.
His conviction over the death of Mr More has caused a rift between his close associates and those loyal to the pair.
Insiders say Anderson, 45, has already been told to put an end to a family member “bad mouthing” the brothers and convicted cocaine baron Mark Richardson, an alleged Gillespie henchman.
Anderson was jailed for a minimum of 21 years and nine months at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday after being found guilty over the role he played in Mr More being shot dead.
He lured the victim out of his house in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, so a gunman could shoot him 11 times on his doorstep in September 2018. Anderson ate a bag of chips as his former friend died.
Underworld sources say Anderson was acting on orders of other people senior to him within the drug gang allegedly run by the Gillespies.
A source said: “Anderson is well known in the drug industry.
“He has been involved in dealing for a long number of years.
“There were times when he had big debts to pay but always managed to get them cleared.
“He wasn’t known for being violent so people were shocked that he would have been involved in something like this.
“His close friends are blaming other people higher up than him for Gary’s death. They’re unhappy and have let it known to others, including men in the prison system.
“They have been bad mouthing Richardson and the Gillespies. Neil got a call telling him to put an end to it or someone would get hurt.
“But he said he would try but can only do so much.”
Anderson’s co-accused Thomas Guthrie, 25, was also jailed for a minimum of 21 years and seven months. He was the getaway driver who took the hitman to Mr More’s home and drove him away.
Guthrie, who has claimed he was paid £100,000 for his part in the murder, pled guilty at an earlier hearing.
He is serving six years for six assault and robbery and traffic offences. The hitman has never been traced.
Security camera footage showed former sunbed shop boss Anderson, of Bothwell, Lanarkshire, and Mr More chatting at the front of the property as a white Skoda pulled up outside the house.
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The hitman left the car and repeatedly fired at Mr More as Anderson walked off screen.
Anderson, who was eating a bag of chips, stayed at the scene for around 13 minutes and dialled 999 before leaving.
A cocaine-dealing charge against Anderson and his brother David, 37, was dropped and they were acquitted of acting in a threatening manner towards More aggravated by a link to serious organised crime.
Anderson previously walked free on a charge of being part of a £7million cocaine empire.
Fugitives James and Barry Gillespie, originally from Rutherglen, have previously been described as the “Pablo Escobar brothers” by police in Brazil and are at the top of the South American country’s most wanted criminals’ list.
Last year, it was claimed that they were using false identities to run a “drug trafficking scheme” to Europe from a hideout in Fortaleza on the north east coast.
A reward of £10,000 was put up by Police Scotland for information leading to the capture of James and Barry.
Detective Sgt Michael Lochrie, the Scottish police officer leading the hunt, described the pair as “very dangerous” and urged the public not to approach them.
And in UOL, a local newspaper in Brazil, a police source described the two men as the “Pablo Escobar brothers” after the notorious drug cartel leader.
The insider told the paper: “They are wanted for serious organized crimes, such as possession of a firearm, kidnapping, attempted murder and export of drugs from South America to Europe and the United Kingdom.”
In June 2020, the Gillespies’ main ally, fellow Scot James White, was detained in a luxury apartment in the Meireles neighbourhood, in Fortaleza, after a warrant issued by the Supreme Federal Court.
He was arrested and charged with drug trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering, homicide, arms and explosives trafficking, conspiracy and other crimes.
The Gillespies – known simply as The Brothers – are wanted in connection with alleged involvement in serious and organised crime, including the attempted murder of Robert Allen in 2015.
In 2019, two gang members linked to the Gillespie brothers were caught with firearms, ammunition and almost £3milllion worth of drugs in an organised crime crackdown.
Daniel Lindsay, 49, and Darren Mulheron, 35, were arrested after officers seized five Glock handguns, 180 rounds of ammunition and 43 kilos of heroin and cocaine.
Detectives also recovered £600,000 when they swooped during an investigation into Scotland’s most powerful crime syndicate.
Police still do not know when the pair arrived in Brazil because they used false documents to travel.
However evidence suggests they command a criminal scheme linked to organised Brazilian groups from Fortaleza.
In recent years Greater Fortaleza has become the “apple of the eye” for international drug traffickers.
It is located close to the notorious “Solimões route” used to traffic cocaine from countries like Peru and Colombia to Europe.
In a statement published on June 26 last year, cops said: “Police Scotland has renewed its appeal for information about the current whereabouts of two men wanted for being involved in serious organised crime in Scotland.
“Both men are wanted by Police Scotland and European Arrest Warrants are in place for them.
“They are regarded as being very dangerous and the public are warned that if they do see them they should not be approached.”