A security officer has been convicted of conspiring to smuggle Class A drugs through Heathrow Airport after a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation. NCA officers caught Farhan Iqbal, 31, at Terminal 5 taking packages from a courier who had flown in from Colombia. The drugs had a street value of £480,000.
Iqbal, of Hanson Gardens in Southall, London was on sick leave and not due to work on 23 November last year, but he arrived at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 in his uniform and made his way to Terminal 5.
Camilo Pulido-Suarez, 37, had flown to Heathrow’s Terminal 5 from his home city of Bogota and went to the terminal’s toilets after landing. Pulido-Suarez’s suitcase contained hidden compartments where the drugs were stashed. One of the compartments had been sliced open to reveal a black package containing the class A.
Officers searched the men and found a Wilkinson Sword razor blade on Pulido-Suarez and the Wilkinson Sword packaging on Iqbal. Iqbal planned to take the drugs and transfer them to another member of the group waiting in an unrestricted arrivals area of Terminal 5.
Iqbal was viewed as a valuable asset by the organised crime group for whom he was working as he had airside access which reduced the risk for couriers.
On Friday 1 June at Blackfriars Crown Court, the presiding Jury found Iqbal guilty.
Inside knowledge and privileged access
NCA senior investigating officer Mark Abbott explained: “Iqbal played a crucial role in the organised crime group and used his insider knowledge and privileged access to the airport to enable the drugs transfer. It was a real betrayal of his colleagues and his employer. This type of corruption really threatens the security of the UK’s borders and public which is precisely why we see it as a priority.”
Abbott went on to state: “Heathrow Airport provided invaluable assistance in this operation. Working with partners in the Metropolitan Police Service, Border Force and the aviation and airline authorities we will continue to crack these cases.”
Pulido-Suarez has admitted importing Class A.
Iqbal and Pulido-Suarez will be sentenced alongside brothers Wilmer Salazar Duarte, 44, of St Margarets Road, Manor Park in London and Alexander Salazar-Duarte, 37, of Langton Avenue, Newham in London, who have admitted conspiring to import Class A.
The brothers are listed for a newton hearing – to determine their roles – on Thursday 7 June.