Blog. Britain's Busiest Airport

Watch Border Force officers recover heroin smuggled inside fashion photos

Heathrow: Britain's Busiest Airport - find out more

Here’s the moment Border Force officers Glen and Amarjit discovered a £100,000 stash of Afghan heroin – smuggled via East Africa inside a package of pictures – at a Heathrow cargo warehouse.

The drugs arrived on a flight from Zambia, hidden inside 42 laminated fashion pictures. Border Force says the heroin – an estimated 2kg in all – was intended for sale to users in Britain.

“It’s a good feeling,” Gary told ITV documentary Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport. “It’s affecting someone’s life, and we might have stopped that.”

Border Force officers at Heathrow have a range of detection tools at their disposal, including X-rays and sniffer dogs. But in this case, it was a simple parcel inspection which first aroused Gary’s suspicions.

East Africa has become a common transit route for Class A drugs from Afghanistan bound for Europe – so much so that it has become known as the ‘Smack Track’.

According to a UN report, the increase in the trade since 1998 can be explained by lack of effective enforcement in the region.

Border Force seized 154kg of heroin in the year 2017-2018. Officers at Heathrow have found the drug hidden in everything from lollipops to cricket balls.

Nick Jariwalla, Director of Border Force Heathrow, said heroin smuggling was a root cause of serious violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.

“Detections such as these are testament to our officers’ dedication and expertise”, he said. “There is no doubt these dangerous drugs would have ended up being sold on the UK’s streets.”

You can watch the full story sequence in HBBA at

Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport

Heathrow at night

The documentary cameras return for a behind-the-scenes look at the people who keep Heathrow running. Meet air traffic controllers, sanitation engineers, Border Force officers and front-line Passenger Experience Managers – and share their daily challenges in this ‘city within a city’ where no two days are alike.

HBBA main page