Two men have been jailed over a plot to import 230 kilos of heroin with a street value of £37.2 million in a specially-adapted Jaguar car.
Noman Qureshi, aged 32, of Brackenhill Mews, Bradford, and Israr Khan, aged 35, of Ethelbert Avenue, Luton, were sentenced to 21 years and 18 years respectively at Luton Crown Court today (Thursday) after being found guilty of conspiracies to import and supply heroin.
The heroin was concealed in the bumpers, wheel arches, dashboard, central console, spare wheel compartment, engine and rear seating.
On the evening of Friday, December 6, 2013, Qureshi drove from his home in Bradford to pick up Khan in Luton before travelling to east London.
The Jaguar, which had been shipped to the UK from Pakistan, was due to be delivered to a repairer in north London but Qureshi called the delivery driver and told him to take it to a garage in Dagenham instead.
National Crime Agency investigators had them under surveillance and watched as the car arrived during the early hours of December 7. Qureshi and Khan left the scene but were arrested later that morning as they drove through Luton.
The Jaguar was seized from the garage forecourt and examined by specialist Border Force search officers. They recovered 316 separate packages of heroin totalling 230 kilos. If cut and sold the drugs would have had an estimated street value of £37.2 million.
National Crime Agency Branch Commander David Norris said: “These men were part of an international crime group planning to import hundreds of kilos of high-purity heroin to the UK.
“It was a quite remarkable smuggling attempt. The car in which the drugs were hidden had virtually every spare bit of space filled with heroin. Crucial parts of the vehicle, like electrics, had been removed to create more room.
“But NCA investigators were one step ahead and managed to prevent these harmful drugs making it onto the streets.”
Another man, Mohammed Safder, 45, from East Ham, London, was found not guilty of the same offences.