Wednesday, 03 March 2021

Henley Probus Club

MALCOLM NELSON gave a talk at the April meeting entitled “Smuggling — 40 years of catching smugglers”.

Starting with the view that it’s easier to talk about smuggling than doing it, this former customs and excise officer slipped into four stories of how smugglers can come unstuck.

Outward appearance is the first clue that a smuggler is attempting to smuggle valuable goods through Heathrow airport. This can often lead to arrest and court.

Catherine, from Nigeria, arrived with one massive suitcase which at first she couldn’t recover from the carousel.

Malcolm stopped the belt and took the bag into the green channel where Catherine assumed a calm demeanour.

When challenged, she couldn’t explain why she had a case full of bananas and nothing else. Cannabis was packed inside each one. She was cautioned and charged and the next day she was before the magistrates.

“You can’t lock me up,” she kept saying and five months later she was cleared, despite all the evidence.

Frederick, from South America, arrived and “didn’t look right”. He was very calm but, being unemployed, was nevertheless not confident when pressed.

His story broke down and he was found guilty and committed to nine years for attempted smuggling.

Olatunde fitted his outward profile but didn’t look like the businessman he claimed to be.

He had a box of coconuts but nothing in his suitcase and he calmly claimed that he was entering the UK to buy car parts.

One well-sealed coconut revealed 90 per cent pure heroin.

He was shocked, surprised and apparently ignorant. He lied comfortably and was ultimately committed to nine years in prison.

Leroy, from the Caribbean, was young and smart and brought two hard-backed suitcases, as often favoured by smugglers.

Ultimately, he was identified as a gang member from Manchester. For all that, he was allowed to run. Twelve plain-clothed officers followed him through the underground and then by rail to his ultimate arrest. He got 12 years in jail.

Malcolm was thanked for his illuminating talk.

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