News | World News | Woman, 66, who tried to help £32million drug gang is jailed for more than six years

Woman, 66, who tried to help £32million drug gang is jailed for more than six years

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Woman, 66, who tried to help £32million drug gang including corrupt baggage handlers smuggle drugs out of Heathrow Airport is jailed for more than six years

  • Kufour, of Bedford, denied but was convicted of conspiring to import cocaine
  • Was 14th and final member of group to be dealt with after she was jailed today
  • Gang loaded cocaine in Brazil in bags that were then received in UK by handlers
  • But the conspiracy was blown open after Border Force intercepted packages

By Rory Tingle For Mailonline

Published: 12:00 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 12:20 EDT, 10 October 2018

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Felicia Kufour, 66, was today sentenced for more than six years for conspiring to import cocaine, becoming the 14th and final member of her group to be dealt with by the courts
Felicia Kufour, 66, was today sentenced for more than six years for conspiring to import cocaine, becoming the 14th and final member of her group to be dealt with by the courts

Felicia Kufour, 66, was today sentenced for more than six years for conspiring to import cocaine, becoming the 14th and final member of her group to be dealt with by the courts

A woman who tried to help a gang smuggle at least £32m worth of cocaine through Heathrow Airport with the help of corrupt British Airways baggage handlers was jailed for more than six years today. 

Felicia Kufour, 66, attempted to collect a drug-laden bag from arrivals but BA staff noticed the Rio suitcase should not have been there and wheeled it away. Kufour tried to flee only to be intercepted by Border Force.

Corrupt BA baggage handler Joysen Jhurry, 41, had moved suitcases from Brazil off the international arrivals carousel to the domestic arrivals hall to avoid security checks.

Jhurry was aided by another baggage handler, Mohammad Ali, 41, and his brother-in-law, Preetam Mungrah, 44, who acted as his right hand man.

Kufour, of Bedford, received a text with a photo of the suitcase she was due to collect before she was arrested. 

She denied but was convicted of conspiring to import cocaine, and became the 14th and final member of the group to be dealt with when she was locked up for six years and three months today.

Judge Michael Hopmeier had jailed the rest of the gang of baggage handlers, mules and dealers for a total of 139 years at Southwark Crown Court in April this year.

Joysen Jhurry, 41, moved drug-laden suitcases flown in from Brazil from the international arrivals carousel to the domestic arrivals hall to avoid security checks
Joysen Jhurry, 41, moved drug-laden suitcases flown in from Brazil from the international arrivals carousel to the domestic arrivals hall to avoid security checks
Jhurry moving the baggage
Jhurry moving the baggage

Joysen Jhurry, 41, moved drug-laden suitcases flown in from Brazil from the international arrivals carousel to the domestic arrivals hall to avoid security checks

Kufour was swamped by border agents as the drug trafficking gang was busted in 2016
Kufour was swamped by border agents as the drug trafficking gang was busted in 2016

Kufour was swamped by border agents as the drug trafficking gang was busted in 2016

Mark Agoro, 52, Damion Goodhall, 30, Wilfred Owusu, 30, and Michael Sutherland, 48, were the wholesalers with international contacts who were able to rake in cash for the gang.

Owusu organised couriers including Danovan Bull, 45, and Moses Awopetu, 38, to fly in and collect the luggage and walk away without any customs checks, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Leiona Townshend-Bartley, 32, Francisca Archer, 26 and Aziz Abdul, 37, had lesser roles as couriers or helpers.

Cocaine was intercepted on six occasions by the National Crime Agency and a total of 223lbs was seized.

The street value was £16m but ‘there were undoubtedly other occasions when it is reasonable to infer and believe that cocaine was successfully smuggled into the country,’ said prosecutor Tim Probert-Wood. 

These other occasions mean the cash flow would have ‘run into the tens of millions of pounds,’ he said. 

Corrupt staff in Brazil loaded bricks of ‘unadulterated cocaine’ into ordinary bags stored in the plane’s hold.

Crooked workers in the UK were then sent photos and descriptions of the bags to look out for through Blackberry Messenger.

Rather than join the rest of the luggage going through security on the international arrivals carousel, bags were ‘ripped off’ and placed on the domestic arrivals carousel before being collected.

Couriers would arrive from Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen into Terminal 5 coinciding with the Rio flights and pick up bags in the arrivals hall.

Jhurry and Ali, along with a team of other BA baggage handlers, were ready to ‘rip off’ luggage from planes and take them to the domestic carousels.

They had fobs which granted them access to air-side and they were also able to get into baggage trucks and drive across the runways.

One of the six suitcases of drugs intercepted at Heathrow after they were moved from Rio to London via courier
One of the six suitcases of drugs intercepted at Heathrow after they were moved from Rio to London via courier

One of the six suitcases of drugs intercepted at Heathrow after they were moved from Rio to London via courier

Townshend-Bartley and Awopetu worked as couriers, disembarking from domestic flights at the right time and picking up the luggage in arrivals.

Agoro, Goodhall, Owusu, Sutherland and Abdul managed the couriers and their job was to get them to the correct airports and tell them what time the luggage would be expected.

When consignments were intercepted the gang held meetings to discuss what went wrong.

Jhurry called Mungrah after police intercepted a bag filled with 129 packages of coke and said ‘Big f*** up, big f*** up.’

Agoro was arrested in connection with a separate conspiracy in August 2015 when he was caught handing across 141 grams of cocaine underneath a table at a Burger King in King’s Cross.

The police swooped on 15 December 2016 and were able to catch almost all of the gang in coordinated strikes that day.

When Jhurry was arrested by police they asked if he was expecting them, he replied, ‘No, but I’m glad you have come, it’s a relief to be honest - I am glad it’s all over.’

He claimed to be in fear of his life after a cartel in South America threatened to kill him.

But Jhurry, of Banstead, Surrey, along with Goodhall, of Tooting, south London, admitted conspiracy to import class A drugs.

Jhurry was jailed for 16 years.

Agoro, of Chafford Hundred, Essex, Abdul, and Awopetu, of no fixed address, also admitted the charge.

Agoro was jailed for 14 years and 6 months, Abdul for 9 years and 6 months, and Awopetu for 6 years and 9 months.

Bull, of Clapham, admitted possession of class A drugs with intent to supply at Isleworth Crown Court in January 2016 and was sentenced to six years in prison

Joysen Jhurry with Damion Goodhall, who sold the cocaine on after it reached the UK, are shown on surveillance footage as the drugs trafficking scam emerged
Joysen Jhurry with Damion Goodhall, who sold the cocaine on after it reached the UK, are shown on surveillance footage as the drugs trafficking scam emerged

Joysen Jhurry with Damion Goodhall, who sold the cocaine on after it reached the UK, are shown on surveillance footage as the drugs trafficking scam emerged

Sutherland, of Croydon; Archer, of Stamford Hill; Townsend-Bartley, of Camberwell; Ali, of Slough; and Kufour, of Bedford, all denied conspiring to import cocaine but were convicted in February after a three month trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Sutherland was jailed for 20 years, Archer for 6 years and 6 months, Townshend-Bartley for 6 years, Ali for 15 years and Kufour will be sentenced on 1 June due to health complications.

Mungrah, of Thornton Heath, and Owusu, of Stoke Newington, were convicted of organising the importation of consignments after an eight week trial at Kingston Crown Court last October.

Owusu was jailed for 20 years and Mungrah was given 13 years.

NCA regional head of investigations Brendan Foreman said: ‘This was a sophisticated plot and at the centre of it was a man who used his privileged access to Heathrow and insider knowledge of the airport’s systems for criminal purposes.

‘This kind of corruption threatens the security of the UK border and the public at large which is why the NCA and its partners are tackling it as a priority.

‘Border Force, Airport authorities and the airline community were vital in helping us to stop this organised crime group in its tracks and pull together the evidence which lead to them being sentenced to significant jail time today.’

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By Shawn Arnette 10/10/2018 12:20:00