Two men from Birmingham and a woman from Worcester have been jailed for 20 years for attempting to smuggle almost 1kg of heroin into the UK.
Ikram Zafar Khan, 29, of Serpentine Road, Aston; Faroque Ahmed Rafiq, 22, of Albert Road, Aston and Angela Tippin, 56, of Grenville Road, Dines Green, Worcester were sentenced at Hereford Crown Court on 10 June after all had pleaded guilty.
Khan was sentenced to 8 years while Rafiq and Tippin were each sentenced to 6 years.
On 2 February 2010 UK Border Agency officers at Coventry international postal hub detected 990g of heroin that had been hidden inside two wooden wall plaques in a parcel from Pakistan. The wall plaques had been wrapped in decorative paper and children’s colouring books were also contained within the parcel.
Officers tested the heroin and found that 441g were 100% pure. The heroin had a street value of approximately £45,000.
The parcel was addressed to a flat in Worcester. On 4 February 2010 UK Border Agency officers, supported by West Mercia police officers, executed a search warrant at the flat.
Several wraps of heroin and crack cocaine, already prepared for street dealing, were seized from the flat along with drugs-related paraphernalia such as scales, crack pipes, cling film and silver foil.
Tippin and Rafiq were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the importation of a controlled drug.
Officers continued the investigation after uncovering evidence showing that Rafiq had phoned Khan as soon as officers entered the flat in Worcester.
Over the next few months UK Border Agency investigators worked closely with West Mercia and West Midlands Police to track down Khan.
Khan was eventually arrested on 16 August 2010 after being caught driving while disqualified from Birmingham to Worcester. A small quantity of heroin was found hidden in the car. Magistrates dealt with him for the driving offence before he was remanded in custody for suspected heroin importation.
All three individuals at first pleaded not guilty but later changed these to guilty pleas in May 2011.
When sentencing on 10 June, His Honour Judge Hooper QC decided that Khan had played a leading role in the importation despite Khan’s claim that he was acting on behalf of others to make money to fund his own heroin addiction.
Khan and Rafiq were both convicted of conspiracy to import a Class A drug while Tippin was convicted of possession with intent to supply.
Peter Avery, UK Border Agency criminal and financial investigation assistant director, said:
‘These sentences reflect the severity of this crime. They send out a message that we are serious about tackling the smugglers and organised crime groups responsible for bringing illegal drugs into Britain.
‘Our highly skilled officers work tirelessly using the very latest technology, and working closely with other agencies, to detect and prevent drugs from being smuggled into the UK. We are determined to combat drug trafficking which has such a destructive impact on the lives of so many.’