12-year-old drugs mule swallowed 87 bags of heroin

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A 12-year-old boy was recovering in hospital in the United States yesterday after swallowing 87 condoms filled with heroin and boarding a British Airways flight from London.

Prince Nnaedozie Umegbolu, an American who has been living with relatives in Nigeria for two years, arrived alone in New York on Wednesday. He suffered severe stomach pains and began passing the packets during a taxi ride from the airport.

The boy was taken to New York Hospital, where he was initially said to be in a "pre-toxic" state and could have died if any of the bags had burst.

It is understood the boy was paid £1,200 to ferry the heroin from Nigeria to London and then on to New York.

His father is serving 10 years in a Virginia jail after being convicted of conspiracy to process and import at least £23m of heroin over a 10-year period.

The Queens district attorney Richard Brown, who said the boy will face charges of juvenile delinquency when he recovers, said: "International drug trafficking has reached a new low of degradation in exploiting a 12-year-old boy by allegedly turning him into a 'mule'. The true criminals in this terrible and tragic case are the cold-hearted and greedy dealers of death who risk a child's life in the relentless quest for dirty money."

The boy's situation was made public as a second teenage girl was charged with attempting to smuggle large quantities of heroin into Britain.

Customs and Excise said yesterday there was no evidence to link the cases involving 13- and 15-year-old girls, but described the arrests as a worrying development.

In the most recent case, a 15-year-old Swedish girl was arrested at Manchester Airport on Thursday afternoon and 2kg of heroin – about £130,000 worth – was seized after allegedly being found in her luggage.

The girl, who cannot be named because of her age, was granted bail yesterday on condition she stays with a diplomat and his family in the Swedish consulate in Liverpool and surrenders her passport. She was charged with the importation of the class A drug diamorphine – heroin – when she appeared at Manchester Youth Court. The case was adjourned to 19 April.

Her appearance comes four days after a 13-year-old girl was detained at Manchester Airport on suspicion of drug smuggling after she stepped off a flight from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Customs found 13kg of heroin, allegedly hidden in a compartment of her suitcase. The drugs have a street value of about £900,000.

She is currently in the care of social services in Bradford, where she is believed to have family links. Magistrates at Manchester Youth Court adjourned the case against the girl, who has a British passport, until Thursday.

* Police were yesterday continuing to investigate the unidentified body of a woman found beside a motorway. The woman, believed to be aged around 60, had swallowed 10 small packages of cocaine, which are believed to have leaked and killed her.

Her body was discovered face down by the side of the M45 in Northamptonshire on Wednesday morning.