Columbian cocaine cartel had corrupt Heathrow Airport security guard bringing in drugs
BUSTED: Corrupt airport security guard Farhan Iqbal
A HEATHROW Airport corrupt security officer, who was working for a Colombian drugs cartel, to bring cocaine into the UK has been jailed for 13 years.
Farhan Iqbal, 31, abused his inside knowledge and privileged access to Heathrow Airport to take consignments of the Class A drug before passing them on to dealers lower down the chain.
Today, at Blackfriars Crown Court, Iqbal, of Hanson Gardens, Southall, west London, was sentenced along with two accomplices – Camilo Pulido-Suarez, 37, a courier who brought the drugs in and Colombian national Wilmer Salazar-Duarte, 44, who was waiting to collect them.
The court heard how on November 23 last year National Crime Agency (NCA) officers caught Iqbal in the toilets at Terminal five taking possession of 5.9kg of cocaine, with a street value of £480,000, from Pulido-Suarez who had flown in from Bogota, Colombia.
Middleman Iqbal was on sick leave and not due to work that day but at 3pm he arrived at Heathrow Terminal three in his uniform, passed through security checks and made his way to Terminal five.
TARGET: Iqbal was under surveillance by the National Crime Agency
CORRUPT: Iqbal goes through airport security on his day off
Pulido Suarez landed at Terminal two and then caught a bus to Terminal five where he headed to the toilets.
He had a black trolley bag with him which contained hidden compartments where the drugs were stashed.
When officers moved in one of the compartments had been sliced open to reveal a black package containing the class A drugs.
Officers searched the men and found a Wilkinson Sword razor blade on Pulido-Suarez and the Wilkinson Sword packaging on Iqbal.
GUILTY: Wilmer Salazar Duarte admitted his role in the smuggling plot
Iqbal planned to take the drugs and transfer them to Salazar-Duarte, of St Margarets Road, Manor Park, east London, who arrived at the airport at 2.50pm with a black trolley bag and was waiting in Terminal five’s arrivals area.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police searched Salazar-Duarte’s home and found a large number of phones and sim cards, a pair of scales, books with pages torn out and believed to have concealed drugs and details of flights coming to London from Bogota.
NCA senior investigating officer Mark Abbott said: “Iqbal was pivotal to this organised crime group’s ability to bring drugs into the UK. Without him it wouldn’t have happened.
"The group viewed him as a valuable asset because his airside access reduced the risk for couriers.
PACKAGE: Drugs found on the defendants in the Heathrow Airport toilets
“This form of corruption threatens the security of the UK border and public which is why the NCA sees it as a priority.
“Heathrow Airport provided invaluable assistance in this operation, and working with partners in the Metropolitan Police, UK Border Force and the aviation and airline authorities we will continue to crack these cases and target corrupt individuals working for criminal networks.”
Russell Tyner, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Farhan Iqbal was a valuable asset to the organised crime group because he had privileged access to the airside areas of Heathrow Airport. He abused his position to allow the other men to smuggle cocaine from Colombia.
NICKED“This was a sophisticated operation and each defendant played a role in the conspiracy.
NICKED: Wilmer Salazar Duarte was also under surveillance
“Three of the defendants pleaded guilty but Iqbal denied involvement. However, thanks to CPS prosecutors and the NCA working together to build a strong case, the jury found him guilty."
Iqbal was convicted at trial of conspiring to smuggle Class A.
Pulido-Suarez and Wilmer both admitted the offence and were jailed for five years three months and seven years six months respectively.
Wilmer’s brother Alexander Salazar-Duarte, 47, of Langton Avenue, Newham, east London, has admitted conspiring to import Class A.
He is listed for a further hearing to determine the extent of his role next month when he is also due to be sentenced.