England

Jail for Birmingham Airport 'heroin suit' smugglers

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Media captionMahmood and Bashir met a man wearing drugs hidden in a special suit

A drugs trafficker, who was part of an international network which used specially adapted clothing to smuggle heroin, has been jailed for 16 years.

Tahir Mahmood, 53, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, pleaded guilty to five drug-related offences at Birmingham Crown Court.

An accomplice, 43-year-old Anwar Bashir from Bradford, was found guilty of three offences and jailed for 15 years.

The gang brought large quantities of the drug from Pakistan to the UK.

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Anwar Bashir (l) was jailed for 15 years, Tahir Mahmood (r) for 16 years
Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Specially-made bodysuits were designed to carry pouches of heroin

After sentencing, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said Mahmood controlled "multiple couriers based in Spain".

The techniques used to conceal the drugs included false-bottomed suitcases, compartments inside books and specially adapted clothing with pouches sewn into the fabric lining.

The offences took place between September 2011 and January 2012 and the network's activities spanned the UK, to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Spain, Dubai and Pakistan.

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Heroin was concealed inside a converted book

Mahmood and Bashir were caught after being filmed meeting a drugs "mule" at Birmingham Airport, who was wearing a body suit under his clothes, stuffed with 87 packages of heroin.

On another occasion, heroin was found in a suitcase taken off a carousel at Birmingham Airport.

Paul Risby, from the NCA, said: "We proved Mahmood and Bashir were linked to seizures totalling 46 kilos.

"But I believe the network dismantled could have been responsible for many more importations - bringing misery, harm and violence to communities in Birmingham, Bradford and other cities."

Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption The pair fitted suitcases with secret compartments

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