A US passenger from California has been jailed after he attempted to smuggle cannabis worth over $900,000 into the UK via London-Heathrow Airport (LHR).
Zered Akolo, 26, from Antioch, was stopped at the airport on 16 January 2023, shortly after arriving at Heathrow on a flight from Los Angeles.
He told Border Force officers that he was travelling to visit university friends, but when his two checked-in suitcases were searched, around 47 kilos of herbal cannabis were found inside.
The photographer initially denied the bags were his, despite them bearing his name tags.
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers questioned the 26-year-old and subsequently charged him with attempting to import Class B drugs.
At a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court in west London on Thursday, 16 February, Akolo subsequently pleaded guilty to importing Class B drugs and a judge sentenced him to 32 months in prison.
Akolo’s conviction is the first following a series of cannabis interceptions made off flights from the US to Heathrow throughout January and February. So far, at 19 US nationals and one Canadian are known to have been charged.
Cannabis can be grown legally in many states in the US and it attracts a premium price on the UK black market.
“Akolo was foolish in the extreme to think he could get away with a brazen drug smuggling trip like this. As a result, he faces a long period of time away from friends and family in a British jail,” said NCA Heathrow Branch Commander Andy Noyes.
He added: “I hope this case serves as a warning to others who would consider acting as drugs mules for organised criminal gangs – it isn’t worth taking the chance.”