Smugglers warned there are no hiding places as Border Force reveals details of contraband discovered at Leeds-Bradford Airport

First published in News by

ENDANGERED birds smuggled inside suitcases and thousands of cigarettes hidden in waistcoats were seizures made by Customs officials at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

Nine grey Francolin birds were discovered inside suitcases at the Yeadon airport, as passengers on flights from Islamabad made two attempts to smuggle them.

Grey Francolin birds are found in drier parts of South Asia.

In another case, two male passengers flying from Lithuania were stopped at the airport when officials were suspicious of their bulky and ill-fitting jackets.

Subsequently, it was discovered the men were carrying 30,000 cigarettes, including thousands concealed in specially adapted waistcoats. Both incidents took place in May 2013.

These images were released today as part of a national scheme to warn potential smugglers that Border Force officials have the skill to catch them out.

During 2012/13, Border Force exceeded its targets for the seizure and detection of Class A drugs. A total haul of 2.4 tonnes of cocaine and 445kg of heroin were seized during this period.

Other cases included two Romanian women flying from the Bahamas stopped at Heathrow Airport with 13 endangered iguanas stuffed into socks and then hidden in their suitcase. Both women were jailed for a year each.

A Nelson Mandela portrait was seized at Manchester Airport in December 2013 after 1,855g of cocaine valued at more than £380,000 was found in the back of the framed picture. Thottapuram Thomas was later jailed for four-and-a-half years.

In March this year, a passenger travelling from Dubai was stopped at Manchester Airport with 15 pots of hair product which had ten kilograms of opium valued at £200,000. As a result, Iranian national Amir Rahnama was later jailed for six years.

Other seizures were made at Gatwick Airport and at Dover.

During the 2012/13 period, Border Force officers made more than 690 seizures under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This had increased from 516 during the previous year. These included 326 ivory items and 93 live animals.

Sir Charles Montgomery, Border Force director general, said: "Smugglers are trying increasingly sophisticated methods and we need to be one step ahead.

"Fortunately our officers have seen virtually every trick in the book.

"Border Force is the first line of defence in protecting the UK from serious and organised crime.

"The skill and experience of our officers helps keep drugs and other illegal goods out of the country and off our streets."

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