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Drug mule swallowed 106 cocaine packages

A man who swallowed 106 packages of cocaine to smuggle them into the UK was today starting a 10-year jail sentence.

Alexsejs Malinovs, 23, from Eastern Avenue South, Northampton, was stopped by UK Border Agency officers at Heathrow Airport in May 2009 when he arrived on a flight from Peru via Amsterdam.

Investigations found the Latvian national had swallowed about 700 grams of cocaine in 106 packages, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said today.

The Class A drug had an estimated value of around £35,000, but an HMRC spokeswoman said this would probably have doubled or trebled once "cut" by drug dealers.

Malinovs was charged with drug smuggling offences under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and was found guilty after a two-day trial at Isleworth Crown Court yesterday.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and a deportation notice was secured, HMRC said.

Peter Avery, assistant director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: "It never fails to amaze me that people take such huge risks with their health and freedom to try and make what they think is easy money.

"The reality for such drug mules is they face a real chance of dying from the moment they ingest these packages.

"However, we have succeeded, through hard work, improved intelligence gathering and the ability of our team of expert officers to disrupt this latest attempt to bring Class A drugs into the area.

"This shows, that alongside our partners in the UKBA, we will catch and secure a prosecution against anyone attempting to smuggle drugs through our airports."