A drug smuggler caught bringing heroin through Leeds Bradford Airport has been jailed for 16 years.
Mohammed Naveed was intercepted at the airport on June 27 after abandoning a shoulder bag in the luggage collection area when he realised he was to be searched after he got off a flight from Islamabad.
Inside customs officers found 2.92kg of heroin concealed inside cigarette sleeves. Naveed’s fingerprint was found inside the bag.
That heroin was worth around £650,000 on the streets but he was also already wanted for questioning about two other illegal importations by different “couriers” into Manchester Airport earlier in the year.
The estimated street value of the three hauls seized was over £2.1m, David Hall prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court.
Naveed, 36 of Whetley Lane, Girlington, Bradford who is also known as Mohammed Ahmed Ismail, was convicted by a jury last week of two charges of conspiracy to import heroin and illegal importation.
Sentencing him yesterday Judge Guy Kearl QC said: “People who import class A drugs in substantial quantities are playing for very high stakes both in terms of value of the drugs to them and also it must be known in terms of the consequences if caught.
“Class A drugs, in particular heroin, bring misery to anyone who becomes dependent on them, anybody who practises in these courts can see that perfectly well.”
The judge said Naveed was no “mere courier” from his contacts he must have known of the extensive nature of the operation.
It was possible two earlier people having been caught that they had run out of couriers and Naveed himself had to carry drugs.
The judge said it appeared Naveed got “cold feet” when he landed at Leeds Bradford Airport in June and put the shoulder bag on a conveyer belt where it was found by a Servisair employee who handed it to customs officers.
In January Naveed was on the same flight from Manchester Airport to Pakistan as Mohammed Siddique who subsequently returned alone using a ticket bought for him by Naveed.
Siddique was arrested at Manchester Airport with 5.23kg of heroin hidden in cigarette sleeves in exactly the same way as it was found concealed in June.
That had a street value of more than £200,000 and he was found to have contact numbers in his phone which later were found to be similar to those in Naveed’s.
On May 17 another courier, Sharaz Khan was arrested at Manchester Airport. He was carrying heroin with a street value of more than £1.3m concealed the same way.
Both those men have since been jailed.
Tina Landale for Khan said he had never been in trouble before and there was no evidence he was involved in directing or organising the drugs operation or was close to the original source of the drugs.
She said there was also no evidence he had ever had a lavish lifestyle. He was a married man with three children whose wife was now dependent on benefits.
She and the rest of his family were unaware of the real reason for his disgrace, that included his father who had recently had a heart attack in Pakistan.
Pete Avery of Border Force said: “The sentence handed out sends a strong deterrent message to anyone thinking of smuggling drugs into the UK. We have robust controls in place at all our ports and airports. We will catch you and you will pay with your liberty.”