London UK June 12 2018 A Heathrow Airport security officer who helped smuggle at least 10 kilos of cocaine into the UK has been jailed for 13 years.
Farhan Iqbal, 31, was caught in the toilets at Heathrow Terminal 5 while collecting the drugs from a courier who had travelled from Columbia.
The total street value of the drugs was more than £1.2 million, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.
Iqbal claimed he only turned to crime to fund a crippling addiction to betting.
Judge Jane Sullivan told him: “You were the linchpin of this whole conspiracy, it could not have happened without you.
“I also found that you were expecting substantial amounts of money, far higher than your salary, to fund your gambling addiction.
“You used your job at Heathrow as a cover and betrayed your employers.”
Iqbal appeared alongside Wilmer Salazar-Duarte, 44, who was sentenced to seven years and six months.
Camilo Suarez, 37, the courier who travelled from Columbia, was jailed for five years and three months.
Alexander Salazar-Duarte, 46, the older brother of Wilmer, is believed to have been the ring leader and his due to be sentenced later.
Speaking of Wilmer the judge said: “I accept that you were performing a limited role under the orders of your brother.
“You are 44 and have been working hard for your family since you arrived in the UK.”
The court was told how Iqbal arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 on November 23, 2017 dressed in his uniform despite being on sick leave.
He made his way to the toilets in Terminal 5 where he met with Suarez and handed him a Wilkinson Sword razor blade to cut the drugs out of the luggage bag.
Officers from the National Crime Agency then arrested Iqbal with the cocaine.
When police raided Iqbal’s flat in Hanson Gardens, Ealing, they found evidence of a previous successful importation of cocaine from September of that year.
National Crime Agency senior investigating officer Mark Abbott said: “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 employer and this type of corruption really threatens the security of the UK border and public which is why we see it as a priority.”
Iqbal had worked at Heathrow as a security officer since February 2008, earning around £31,000 a year.
He was also served with a serious crime prevention order that bans him from working at a port for five years after his release date.
Iqbal, of Hanson Gardens, Ealing, denied conspiracy to import cocaine but was convicted by a jury.
Wilmer and Alexander Salazar-Duarte, both of Highfield Court, St Margaret Road, Wanstead, both admitted conspiracy to import cocaine.
Camilo Suarez, of Bogata, Columbia, admitted importing cocaine.