Arrested at the prison gates... imam accused of smuggling £60k of ‘spice’ for inmates
A MUSLIM chaplain has been arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle £60,000 worth of illegal drugs into one of Britain’s most notorious prisons.
Mohamed Rawat was caught at HMP Belmarsh allegedly carrying more than 60 sheets of paper soaked in the highly addictive synthetic substance Spice.
The 49-year-old imam was dramatically detained at the prison gates after a secret probe by the anti-corruption unit at the Category A jail in South-East London.
Inmates there have included Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, the jihadi killers of soldier Lee Rigby.
Volunteer chaplain Rawat is
‘Lee Rigby’s jihadist killers were inmates’
banned from going to the prison while he is under investigation.
The audacious plot to allegedly use a trusted cleric as a mule shows the determination of criminal gangs to sell drugs to inmates.
Dealers have recruited dozens of prison officers to smuggle in drugs while others have used drones to fly contraband over jail walls.
Spice is particularly sought after behind bars because it cannot be detected in drugs tests and can be sprayed onto sheets of paper.
All prisons now seize letters and books sent to inmates and give them photocopies in case the originals are saturated in Spice. The drug causes similar reactions to cannabis but is far stronger and causes some users to become violent and delusional.
Earlier this year Prisons Minister Rory Stewart said: ‘The greatest driver of prison violence is probably the surge in the use of Spice and other mind-altering drugs.’
Its widespread use in prisons puts a huge strain on the NHS as ambulances have to be sent to inmates who have overdosed, and it has been linked to suicides and violent deaths in cells.
Last year prison guards at HMP Belmarsh fell ill after accidentally inhaling the drug.
The jail now has sniffer dogs, a body scanner in reception and an ‘itemiser’ that can test for drugs in the post room.
But this year’s independent monitoring board report said drugs continue to get inside which ‘directly contributes to the levels of violent incidents’.
Born in the Midlands, Rawat describes himself as a ‘religious leader’ for his local community.
Scotland Yard said: ‘On November 28, police arrested a man at Belmarsh Prison on suspicion of possession with intent to supply an illegal substance. He has been released under investigation.’
Last night a spokesman for the Prison Service said: ‘Drugs fuel instability and violence behind bars and we are determined to do everything possible to stop them from entering our prisons.’
But a source confirmed to this newspaper: ‘A volunteer chaplain at HMP Belmarsh has had their prison access suspended.’
The Mail on Sunday could not reach Rawat for comment last night.
POLICE PROBE: Volunteer chaplain Mohamed Rawat