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India Drug Smuggling a Growing Issue for Punjabis

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Ambarsaria, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Air hostess who smuggled £250,000 of cocaine into Britain via Heathrow is jailed for 8 years

    By Colin Fernandez
    Last updated at 12:49 AM on 21st December 2010

    Jailed: Mandeep Shahi fought back tears as given an eight year prison sentence

    An air hostess who teamed up with a former public schoolboy to smuggle £250,000 worth of cocaine into the country wept as she was jailed for eight years.

    Mandeep Shahi, 27, took advantage of lax security while working for Air Canada to smuggle four kilos of the drug on board in her luggage.

    After breezing through customs checks after landing at Heathrow, she headed to a hotel to deliver the goods to a pair of major drug dealers.
    She was caught by an undercover police operation but was only arrested on her return to Britain five months later after detectives identified her using CCTV footage.

    Shahi claimed she had been an unwitting drugs mule - but a jury at Southwark Crown Court found her guilty of possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.

    Southwark Crown Court heard it was highly unlikely Air Canada cabin crew would be subjected to random drug searches as Canada was not considered a high-risk country for drug smuggling.

    Former public schoolboy Simon Howard-Harwood and Baljinder Nijjar, both 28, who collected the drugs she smuggled into Britain had admitted conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs, while minicab driver Ghulem Malik, 53, was convicted of ferrying drugs for the pair.

    On March 26 this year, Shahi flew into Heathrow from Toronto.

    After leaving the airport she checked into the Danubius Hotel, in Regent’s Park, central London - which was being staked out by undercover drugs officers who had been on the trail of Nijjar and Howard-Harwood for months.

    Nijjar was seen going into Shahi’s room and left carrying a blue Air Canada Bag - thought to contain the drugs.

    He then walked to room 221 where Howard-Harwood was staying and left empty-handed.

    Shortly afterwards taxi driver Malik, who ferried drugs for the dealers, went to Howard-Harwood’s room, and left with a bag which he loaded into his vehicle and drove away.

    When police stopped him they found a kilo of cocaine in his car.

    When officers raided Howard-Harwood’s room they found him dressed in his underpants, with a line of coke on a surface ready for him to snort - and the remaining 3kg of cocaine in a wardrobe.

    Officers then seized 25kg of cannabis resin from a London safe house connected to the gang.

    Shahi was not arrested at that stage and she unsuspectingly flew back to Canada.

    Giving evidence Shahi insisted that she had only packed her bag with clothes, and had no idea it contained drugs.

    ‘It was a regular day, a regular flight, a normal situation for me,’ she told jurors.

    Caught out: Air hostess Mandeep Shahi and Baljinder Nijjar, 28, who helped orchestrate the drug smuggle plot

    Prosecuted: Mini-cab driver Ghulem Malik and former public schoolboy Simon Howard-Harwood

    She said she was married to Nijjar’s cousin, Bhupinder Sanghera, and suggested that he could have put the drugs in her bag without her knowing.

    Shahi wept as the judge sentenced her and her fellow drug dealers to a total of 32 years in prison.

    Judge Gledhill said they took advantage of the lack of security checks on Air Canada staff as they flew into Heathrow.

    He told Nijjar: ‘As you well knew through your cousin, and perhaps Miss Shahi, Canada is not regarded as a country that poses a great risk of prohibited drugs being brought to this country.

    ‘The fact of the matter is, as an officer who works at Heathrow told the court, there is virtually a nil risk that flights coming into this country from Canada would be subjected to random checks of crew.’

    The judge said the deal had been set up by Nijjar and his cousin Sanghera - Shahi’s husband - but the hostess agreed to take drugs on the flight from Toronto and played her role ‘with aplomb’.

    He said after giving the drugs to Nijjar, she travelled to Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush, west London and splashed out on a new £200 handbag.

    The judge told her: ‘You knew from your seven or eight previous visits as air crew that the chances of your person or luggage being searched was nil, so when your husband told you, you could not say no and did not say no.

    ‘Whether you were happy to do it or had reservations, I have no idea, but the fact is you were not acting under duress, and you could have chosen not to.’

    Howard-Harwood, of Waterlooville, Hampshire was jailed for nine years and Nijjar, Southall, Middlesex, was jailed for 12 years after they both admitted conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs.

    The judge said Nijjar had ‘corrupted’ Malik, who he had met while Malik was working as a taxi driver.

    Shahi, of Ontario, and Malik, of Southall, were both cleared of the conspiracy to supply prohibited drugs.

    Malik, was convicted of possession of class A and class C drugs, both with intent to supply was jailed for three years.


    Original URL below:


    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...ty-Heathrow-smuggle-250k-cocaine-Britain.htmlOriginal URL:
     
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