Trio of Americans who tried to smuggle drugs through Heathrow jailed

(Left-right) Sabrina Hobby, Ara Janneh, Madani Ba (NCA/ES composite)
(Left-right) Sabrina Hobby, Ara Janneh, Madani Ba (NCA/ES composite)

Three Americans have been jailed after trying to smuggle drugs into the UK through London’s Heathrow airport.

The trio all arrived into the UK on flights from Los Angeles between January 13 and 15 this year, before Border Force agents discovered they were carrying suitcases laden with vacuum-packed packages of herbal cannabis.

Following a National Crime Agency investigation, they were charged with importing class B drugs.

On Thursday, New Yorkers Ara Janneh, 25, and Madani BA Junior, 23, and 29-year-old Sabrina Desiree Hobby, from Texas, were handed jail terms of between 12 and 26 months at Isleworth Crown Court.

Hobby, of Cedar Park in Texas, was sentenced to 26 months in prison for smuggling 36kg of cannabis.

Janneh was sentenced to 12 months, and BA Junior to 20 months, for smuggling a combined total of 54kg of cannabis.

NCA Heathrow Branch Commander Andy Noyes said: “The prison sentences handed out are the consequence of foolish decisions made by people who either think, or have been told, that they will get away with smuggling drugs into the UK.

“These attempts were largely unsophisticated, with commercial amounts of cannabis carried unconcealed within large suitcases.

“All three individuals are now serving jail time thousands of miles away from their friends and family, and I would urge anyone considering smuggling cannabis into the UK to think twice.

“The NCA and our partners in Border Force are targeting drugs couriers, and will continue to disrupt the crime groups involved in drug trafficking.”

Katherine Wilson, Regional Director of Heathrow Border Force, added: “The smuggling, production and sale of cannabis plays a fundamental part of the business model that funds dangerous and violent organised criminal gangs.

“This seizure and others like it should send a clear message to anyone considering smuggling illegal drugs into the UK. Working closely with the NCA, we remain committed to tackling supply chains and stopping these dangerous drugs from entering our communities.”

Cannabis grown legally in parts of America attracts a premium price in the UK, and the three convictions follow a spate of arrests involving seizures made from flights from the US.

More than 20 American nationals have now been arrested at UK airports since the start of 2023, with six convicted and sentenced.