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Biggest ever heroin haul at Britain's Heathrow Airport

world Updated: Sep 18, 2009 03:00 IST

British and South African authorities have made a record heroin seizure following on operation at London's Heathrow Airport and raids in both countries, officials said on Thursday.

Immigration officials discovered some of the drugs hidden in souvenirs from South Africa at Heathrow, sparking an investigation that netted 360 kilogrammes (793 pounds) of heroin in total, the UK Border Agency said.

Seven people have been arrested in both countries over the total seizure, worth 27 million euros or 41 million dollars, the agency said.

Thousands of kilogrammes of cannabis were also discovered, the agency said. "This latest detection of heroin at Heathrow, believed to be our biggest ever, highlights our success in preventing class A drugs entering the UK," said Philip Astle, the UK Border Agency's Heathrow director.

About 165 kilogrammes were discovered at Heathrow, a record seizure for the world's busiest airport, on September 9 in the consignment of souvenirs.

After an investigation, police seized another 80 kilogrammes and arrested two people in Kent, southeast England, charging one with conspiracy to import drugs and possession, the agency said.

Acting on information from Britain, South African police arrested five people, including three British nationals, and seized 115 kilogrammes of heroin and 6,500 kilogrammes of cannabis in a warehouse outside Durban.

"These seizures are a great example of what can happen when partners work together, said Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency deputy director Andy Sellers.

"Both ends of this international chain have been attacked, and a significant amount of heroin and cannabis has been kept off the UK's streets."