£4.3m cannabis haul discovered at Heathrow Airport

Just some of the hundreds of tape-wrapped packages containing cannabis.
Just some of the hundreds of tape-wrapped packages containing cannabis. Photo: UK Border Agency and Border Force

Border officials at Heathrow have seized 1.5 tonnes of cannabis, with an estimated street value of £4.3 million.

It's the biggest haul of the drug to be seized at the airport in more than three years.

The cannabis was discovered in three separate air freight containers, containing fresh fruit and vegetables, which had arrived on a flight from Accra in Ghana. It will now be incinerated.

The total weight of the seizure was 1.5 tonnes. Border Force officers filled seven commercial bins with the drugs.
The total weight of the seizure was 1.5 tonnes. Border Force officers filled seven commercial bins with the drugs. Credit: UK Border Agency and Border Force

The drugs were in separate tape-wrapped compressed packages within boxes.

There were so many packages Border Force officers filled seven commercial-sized wheelie bins with the drugs.

After being seized the cannabis was taken under armed escort to a secure location where it will now be stored until it is incinerated.

Investigations are ongoing to establish the eventual destination for the drugs.

Marc Owen, Heathrow Director for Border Force, said:

“This was smuggling on an industrial scale. It is a significant quantity of cannabis, our biggest seizure of this kind in several years at Heathrow.

“The fact we have stopped it reaching the streets of the UK will make a substantial dent in the profits of the criminals responsible.

“The international drug trade is a vile business that Border Force officers play a key part in disrupting.”

Recent arrests at Heathrow for drug possesion:

Connie Poku, 42, from Burnham was picked up with six kilogrammes of cocaine with a street value of £830,000. She was jailed for 45 months.

Connie Poku.
Connie Poku. Credit: UK Border Agency and Border Force

An Ethiopian woman who tried to smuggle three suitcases containing 56 kilogrammes of cannabis into the UK, with a street value of £160,000, has been jailed for two years and nine months.

Amelework Wondemagegne, 36, originally from Wonji, Ethiopia, but now living near Washington DC in the United States, was arrested by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 on the morning of 7 April 2012. She had arrived on a flight from Addis Ababa.

Amelework Wondemagegne.
Amelework Wondemagegne. Credit: UK Border Agency and Border Force

Home Office's most recent figures on drug seizures in the London region for the financial year April 2010-March 2011:

  • At 30 per cent, the largest proportion of drug seizures took place in London, the most heavily populated region in England and Wales.
  • Number of seizures by police force or authority: 658 seizures City of London; 62,714 seizures Met and 63,372 seizures London region
  • Drug seizures per million population by police force area: 57,282 City of London; 8,100 Met and 8,173 London region
  • Number of seizures of controlled drugs by seizing authority: 658 City of London; 62,714 Met; London region 63,372
  • Quantities of cocaine seized in kilos by seizing authority - 0.3 City of London, 585.7 Met and London region 688
  • Quantities of herbal cannabis seized in kilos by seizing authority - 2.4 City of London, 2,240.3 Met and London region 2,242.8