Record drugs haul at London airports

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The Independent Online
A RECORD pounds 75m worth of drugs was seized at London airports in the past year - about five consignments a day - with a sharp upsurge in smuggled heroin and cocaine.

Customs officers, who unveiled the figures for confiscations at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, yesterday conceded that the war against drugs could never be won without 'Draconian' measures.

David Chesters, Assistant Collector for Customs and Excise at Gatwick, said: 'There is a way to stop drug smugglers and that is stop every single passenger. It's not acceptable to the politicians or to the general public.'

Drug seizures rose from 1,637 with a street value of pounds 70.8m in 1992-93 to 1,724 worth pounds 75m in the year ending March 1994; 375 illegal firearms were also discovered.

Customs said the most worrying trend among the latest figures was the rise in seizures of class A 'hard' drugs, whose value has risen from pounds 50m to more than pounds 68m in the past year. About 124kg of heroin were taken, 407kg of cocaine and 360kg of opium, plus more than 50,000 doses of synthetic drugs such as LSD and Ecstasy. Finds of class A drugs has risen from 432 to 509 in a year.

Smuggling techniques such as swallowing and stuffing substances inside the body were on the decrease. Instead, people were now packing drugs around them.