FIVE serious and organised crime gangs are operating in Ayrshire, police have warned.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the dangerous criminals were a “clear threat” to the pub trade and the “legitimate economy” in Ayrshire.

In a report to South Ayrshire Council’s licensing board, he said crooks launder money through local firms.

And Detective Chief Inspector Alan Sommerville, Ayrshire CID said the police “closely monitor” their illegal empires across the whole of Ayrshire.

The report submitted to council said: “At this current time there are five serious and organised crime groups being managed by Ayrshire Division with some of these groups having a known interest in a business requiring some form of licence to operate.”

DCI Sommerville said: “Those involved in organised crime believe they are above the law, but that is not the case.

“In Ayrshire, we closely monitor any activity which we believe is linked to serious and organised crime and we work hard to disrupt and dismantle these groups.”