Nine Americans Were Arrested in One Week for Smuggling Weed Into the UK
Smuggling pounds of weed into another country will always end poorly. Don't we know this by now?!
Published on January 21, 2023

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On Tuesday, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) announced that nine Americans were detained within a week for attempting to smuggle cannabis into the country. The law enforcement agency is investigating if these failed attempts were meant to import cannabis from California into the United Kingdom. 

The NCA stated that all nine Americans traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to London’s Heathrow Airport. Everyone arrested was charged for carrying between 30 and 50 kilograms (which equates to roughly 56 to 110 pounds) of cannabis in their checked baggage.

“We are working to understand how these seizures are connected, however, to get this many off the same route in such a short period of time is clearly very unusual,” NCA senior investigation officer Darren Barr said in a statement from the agency.

January 10th marked the first pot seizure at Heathrow Airport after the Border Force found about 30 kilos of cannabis in the traveler’s luggage. That Friday — just three days later — Border Force made another arrest. Two more seizures were made that Saturday. The next day (Sunday), four more arrests were made for the same thing. Finally, the most recent smuggling attempt was thwarted on Monday, Jan.16th.

Cumulatively, nearly 340 kilograms (so, roughly 750 pounds) of weed were seized at Heathrow last week. All nine Americans have been charged with attempting to import class B drugs into the country. They’re all in custody pending appearances in court.

Officials estimate the street value of cannabis at more than £5.5 million, which equates to $6.8 million. But remember that law enforcement agencies generally inflate value estimates of seized drugs. 

The NCA official warned that the suspects charged in the smuggling cases face steep penalties if found guilty. Convictions for importing class B drugs into the UK can carry unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 14 years.

“Drugs couriers face stiff sentences so I’d urge anyone considering getting involved in such ventures to think very carefully about the consequences,” Barr noted. “Alongside partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organized crime groups involved in international drug trafficking.”

Steve Dann, the chief operating officer of the Border Force, praised the work of customs officials for their role in preventing the seized cannabis from entering the country.

“Drugs fuel violence and chaos on the streets and inflict suffering in communities across the U.K. Thanks to the work by Border Force, these dangerous drugs were stopped from reaching Britain’s streets and causing significant harm to our neighborhoods,” said Dann. “This seizure demonstrates the successful joint partnership between the Border Force and NCA, as well as our common commitment to keep our communities safe and smash the illegal drugs trade.”

Let this be a lesson to everyone: Smuggling pounds of flower into another country is not a good idea. Just find weed there, people! It's not that hard.

MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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