Drug inside the vegetable
Drug inside the vegetable MET Police Handout

In what is being described as an important crackdown, the Middlemarket Drugs Partnership (a project of the Metropolitan Police Specialist Crime Directorate (SCD7) and Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and the UK Border Agency have intercepted and seized two kilograms of heroin, at London's Heathrow Airport. The heroin, which has an estimated street value of £80,000, was reportedly found hidden inside in a consignment of vegetables - a variety of East Asian radish.

Ali Amir Shah, 44, a resident of Pillbox Walk, Colchester, Essex, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to import the drug and sentenced to 11 years in prison, after pleading guilty. Shah was tried and sentenced at the Kingston Crown Court on Oct. 6. It is believed that Shah was responsible for the collection of the drugs within the UK and taking them to a secure location to await distribution within London.

The consignment of drugs, which arrived on a flight from Pakistan, was discovered in February. Shah was arrested immediately, but the terms of his sentence were only recently announced.

Officers found that the vegetables had been cut open and hollowed out to make space for the drugs before the halves of radish were glued back together.

"This investigation led to the recovery of a significant quantity of harmful Class A drugs that were destined for the streets of London. The concealment of these drugs was unusual and had clearly been constructed with meticulous care. However, the vigilance of the UK Border Agency led to the discovery of the consignment which prompted our inquiries and ultimately this successful prosecution," said Detective Inspector Steven Miles of the Middlemarket Drugs Partnership.

"This was a sophisticated concealment and demonstrates the lengths that drug smugglers are prepared to go to get contraband into the UK. But that was matched by the vigilance, dedication and determination shown by our officers who uncovered this shipment," said Assistant Director Pete Avery of the UK Border Agency's Criminal and Financial Investigation Directorate.

"Working with law enforcement partners like the Metropolitan Police and SOCA we are determined to tackle the criminal gangs responsible for bringing Class A drugs into the UK," Avery added.