US photographer who smuggled 47kg of cannabis from the US to UK jailed

A photographer from California who tried to smuggle cannabis worth £760,000 into the UK inside his luggage has been jailed.

Zered Akolo, 26, hid 47 kilos of class B drugs in two suitcases when he flew into Heathrow airport from Los Angeles on January 16.

Border Agents seized the herbal cannabis and questioned Akolo, who denied the bags belonged to him despite his name being on the luggage tags.

At Isleworth crown court, Akolo pleaded guilty to importing class B drugs and he was sentenced on Thursday to two years and eight months in prison.

“Akolo was foolish in the extreme to think he could get away with a brazen drug smuggling trip like this”, said National Crime Agency Heathrow Branch Commander Andy Noyes.

“As a result he faces a long period of time away from friends and family in a British jail.

“I hope this case serves as a warning to others who would consider acting as drugs mules for organised criminal gangs – it isn’t worth taking the chance.”

When he landed in the UK, Akolo, from the city of Antioch in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, claimed to be on a trip to visit university friends.

Akolo was among 19 US and Canadian nationals charged with drugs smuggling following a series of seizures at Heathrow in January and February.

Katherine Wilson, Director of Border Force Heathrow, said:  “Thanks to the work by Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport, £760,000 worth of drugs were stopped from infiltrating and causing harm to our communities.  

“Together with NCA and partners, we will continue to protect our borders and bring to justice those who attempt to smuggle drugs into our country.”


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