A man who swallowed around 40 packages of cocaine worth almost £150,000 in an attempt to smuggle them into the UK through Gatwick Airport has been jailed.
Solizama Tcha-Gouni, 50, was arrested by Border Force officers at the airport on January 19, having just arrived on a flight from Barbados.
Tcha-Gouni, of Leicester, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison on Thursday (March 6) following a joint investigation involving Border Force and the National Crime Agency.
He had pleaded guilty to drug importation charges at an earlier hearing at Isleworth Crown Court in London.
The court had heard how a search of his baggage had proved negative but swab tests on his shoes produced a high positive reaction for cocaine.
As Border Force staff took him for an x-ray he admitted swallowing packages of drugs.
In interviews with officers from the NCA’s Border Policing Command, Tcha-Gouni stated he was expecting to be paid around £5,000 for bringing the drugs into the UK.
In total the packages he swallowed contained almost 700 grammes of high-purity cocaine, which if cut and sold on the UK streets would have had an estimated value of £148,000.
Border Force South regional director Carole Upshall said: “Tcha-Gouni effectively risked his life for the promise of a few thousand pounds – if any one of those packages had burst or split the consequences would very likely have been fatal.
“Meanwhile those with criminal intent stood to make massive profits for no such risk.
“Working with our colleagues at the NCA we are determined to stop illegal drugs crossing our border and making it onto the UK’s streets.”