A MALE who attempted to smuggle heroin worth almost £1 million into the UK through Birmingham Airport has been jailed for nine years. National Crime Agency investigators questioned Mohammed Uzair Rashid, from Greater Manchester, after he arrived into Birmingham Airport on a flight from Sialkot in Pakistan, via Dubai, in November last year.
CCTV cameras captured the moment Border Force officers singled out the 35-year-old for a search, during which they found almost 18 kilos of high-strength heroin in Rashid’s checked-in baggage. He claimed the bags were not his, and then stated that the packages had been planted inside.
NCA officers identified that Rashid had flown out to Pakistan on 29 September on a ticket booked the same day as his travel. He claimed to have taken more than £500 savings from his benefit payments with him on the holiday.
WhatsApp messages recovered from Rashid’s phone showed that he was in constant contact with someone he referred to as ‘Brother’ as he passed through the airport in Pakistan.
NCA forensic experts found that the packages contained heroin that’s between 66% and 71% pure with a street value in excess of £900,000.
Rashid eventually pleaded guilty to Class A drug importation offences and was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday 13 May.
NCA operations manager Niall Conner said: “Rashid’s story should be a cautionary tale for anyone considering involvement in drug smuggling. He might have thought that he could make a bit of money on the side, but instead he's now serving a long and life-changing prison sentence.”
Conner continued: “Heroin is a drug which fuels violence and exploitation in our communities, where we often see it sold by County Lines street gangs. This is why we are working with partners to do all we can to disrupt supply chains and track down those bringing it in to the UK.”
Neal Broad, assistant director of Border Force for Birmingham and the East Midlands, added: “Rashid’s sentencing is the result of the hard work and dedication delivered by Border Force and the NCA to secure the UK’s borders and prosecute those who seek to smuggle illegal drugs into the country. Border Force’s work with the NCA to stop drugs entering the UK is a core part of the Government’s ten-year drug strategy to cut crime and save lives.”