SA man bust for smug­gling heroin into UK

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - IAN EVANS

LONDON: A man from Benoni, Ekurhu­leni, has ap­peared in a London court ac­cused of us­ing cats to smug­gle heroin with a street value of R13 mil­lion into the UK.

Scott Parker, who has dual South African and Bri­tish na­tion­al­ity, al­legedly hid the drug in the bot­toms of three cat crates with the an­i­mals still inside them.

The cats were on a flight from Oliver Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port to Heathrow Air­port in London to where their own­ers were re­turn­ing.

Bri­tain’s Na­tional Crime Agency (NCA) said work­ers at the Heathrow An­i­mal Re­cep­tion Cen­tre thought the crates were un­usu­ally heavy after the pets had been re­moved.

Un­der closer ex­am­i­na­tion, of­fi­cers un­cov­ered a false bot­tom in the crates and found the heroin hid­den inside.

The NCA was called in, and Parker was ar­rested when he came to col­lect the cats.

The stash of heroin re­cov­ered by po­lice weighed 15kg.

Parker has since been charged with im­port­ing a class A drug into the UK.

He ap­peared be­fore the Uxbridge Mag­is­trate’s Court where he was not re­quired to en­ter a plea. He has been re­manded in cus­tody and is due to ap­pear in the Isle­wor th Crown Court next Thurs­day.

Com - ment­ing on the ar­rest, Paul Bolton, from the NCA ’s Bor­der Polic­ing Com­mand, said: “This was an un­usual con­ceal­ment and if sold in the UK, the heroin would have had a value in ex­cess of

The drugs were found hid­den in false bot­toms of pet cats’ crates

£750 000 (R13m).

“Work­ing with the Bor­der Force, we will con­tinue to tar­get those who try to bring il­le­gal drugs into the UK and do dam­age to com­mu­ni­ties.”

Bor­der Force Heathrow Di­rec­tor Marc Owen added: “Bor­der Force works closely with all our law-en­force­ment col­leagues, in­clud­ing the NCA, to pre­vent drug trafficking and do all we can to put those re­spon­si­ble be­hind bars.

“Those who en­gage in drug smug­gling should be in no doubt that they will be tar­geted and brought to jus­tice,” he told re­porters.

A spokesman for the NCA said the cats were safe and had since been re­united with their own­ers.

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