Ex-counsellor jailed for drugs plot

A former drugs counsellor who visited schools to warn youngsters about the dangers has been jailed for 12 years for his role in a £1.3 million heroin smuggling plot.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) confirmed Mahfooz Ahmed, 34, was jailed yesterday at Leeds Crown Court after he admitted importing drugs.

A judge was told how 24.8kg of drugs were seized five years ago after an accomplice dropped a suitcase in a residential street in Halifax, West Yorkshire, when he spotted approaching customs officers.

In the suitcase were 50 blocks of high-purity heroin with an estimated street value of £1.36 million.

Law graduate Ahmed had been seen driving a car with the drug-laden suitcase before picking up his accomplice and then dropping him off in Hopwood Lane.

He went on the run for five years but was arrested in October last year in Harrow, North London.

The UKBA said their investigations confirmed that while Ahmed was on the run for the UK drugs offences he had also committed further large-scale drugs offences in Belgium, for which he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in his absence by a court in Brussels.

That case involved a multimillion-pound international drugs operation.

The court heard how he had previously been a community worker in Halifax who supported drug users and had also carried out research on the problems of drug use in minority groups.

He said he fell into drug-dealing after developing financial problems.

Malcolm Bragg, assistant director for the UK Border Agency, said: "Drug smuggling is a vile business that exploits the misery of others for an easy profit. Heroin destroys the lives not only of users, but also their families and the surrounding community.

"The UK Border Agency plays a vital role in the Government's aim to disrupt the international drugs trade and bring the organisers to justice.

"As today's case shows, our officers work tirelessly to catch those involved in drug smuggling. The message is clear - if you are involved in drug smuggling we will catch you and you will go to jail for a long time."