Drug mule who searched 'what to take to London in suitcase' caught with kilo of cocaine at Heathrow

Armando Pascual Formigli Palma (left) and the seized cocaine (NCA)
Armando Pascual Formigli Palma (left) and the seized cocaine (NCA)

A man from Paraguay who searched "what to take to London in your suitcase" on Google has been jailed after being caught with nearly a kilo of cocaine at Heathrow.

Armando Pascual Formigli Palma, 31, was jailed for five years and seven months at Winchester Crown Court on Monday over the drug smuggling, after which he will be deported.

The court heard how Border Force stopped Palma on a routine check at Heathrow Airport on July 31 last year, when he told them he intended to see the capital’s sights.

But an x-ray scan of his luggage revealed purpose-built concealments in two suitcases containing cocaine.

He insisted he was given the bags by a “criminal organisation” and had not packed it himself.

A second person, who is not being investigated, had sent across a hotel booking, flight details and insurance for Formigli Palma.

But officers from the National Crime Agency discovered he had searched for a London weather forecast and how to pack the bags, before getting on a flight from Brazil to the UK.

Pictures on his phone revealed images of plants thought to be cannabis or coca, and a picture of him in a pair of patterned shorts - which were later found in the bags. This suggested he played a role in packing the bags, the NCA said.

Police also found no evidence he had received any threats of physical harm to himself or his family.

John Turner, National Crime Agency Operations Manager, said: “Formigli Palma invented a backstory to try and avoid the consequences of his involvement in the drugs trade, underestimating the determination of our officers to uncover the truth.

“Drug mules like him play a crucial role in the business model of organised criminals, who fuel violence and exploitation across the UK.

“Formigli Palma’s sentence today shows that the NCA, along with our partners in Border Force, will work tirelessly to dismantle the drugs supply chain and bring all those involved to justice.”