A dad who smuggled £22 million worth of heroin into the UK hidden inside boxes containing plastic carrier bags has been jailed for 20 years.
Arfan Mirza, 42, was caught when he filmed himself in an advert for street dealers after he had shipped the Class-A drugs into the country from Pakistan, a court heard.
The dad-of-four headed up a massive drug smuggling operation which saw consignments disguised as shopping bags and sports goods.
Mirza, of Birmingham, was convicted following a seven-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court and on Friday he was jailed for 20 years.
Mirza was caught when two 20 kilo packages were intercepted at Heathrow Airport by Border Force officials in February 2020.
An investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) found he was behind the importation of 30 similar consignments from March 2019 onwards.
Officers also probed Mirza’s phone data and business records held by courier companies and found videos on his mobile of him testing the purity of the heroin.
A search of his home in Washwood Heath found parts of the carrier bags which had been used as a cover load.
Mobile phones and SIM cards were also recovered and the numbers were linked to contact details on the consignments.
In interviews, Mirza claimed an unknown person agreed to reduce his gambling debts by £1,000 if he allowed a parcel to be delivered to his house.
NCA analysts believe he imported a total of 220 kilos of heroin between March 2019 and February 2020 with a potential street value of £22m.
Mirza was arrested in February 2020 for conspiring to import controlled substances into the UK.
During his trial, Mirza admitted his involvement in the offences and that previous parcels had included heroin.
He also admitted collecting the drugs and then forwarding them on to others involved in the supply chain.
Judge Heidi Kubik KC described Mirza as head of the drugs operation in the UK and said he had played a pivotal role in the success of the illegal activity.
She described Mirza’s lack of remorse and said he had only provided a self-serving account into how he became involved.
NCA operations manager Rick Mackenzie said after the case: “Mirza concocted a determined and sophisticated plot to smuggle huge quantities of this dangerous class A drug into the UK, starting with dummy deliveries in an attempt to ensure his efforts would be successful.”