LONDON: A large amount of heroin “concealed in packets” was seized from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) PK-785 in an intelligence-based operation, UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed to Geo News on Tuesday.
“National Crime Agency officers are investigating following the seizure of a large quantity of heroin found by Border Force officers onboard a flight from Pakistan at Heathrow on Monday, May 15. No arrests have been made, enquiries are ongoing,” an NCA spokesman told Geo News.
Earlier, 13 crew members of PIA PK-785 who had arrived from Islamabad were detained at the Heathrow Airport. The crew members were kept in detention for five hours, and according to UK Border Agency (UKBA) sources, information had been received from Pakistan that there were narcotics onboard the flight. According to the information, there was a suspicion that the crew might be involved and that narcotics were hidden in different panels and areas of the plane.
The crew was released at 2 AM (GMT) after being questioned but their passports are still held by the UKBA which states that further questioning might take place.
PIA crew alleges false information being given to defame airline
The PIA crew while speaking to Geo News said that the customs authorities carried out a thorough search going through each and every thing, adding they have no clue as to why such treatment was meted out to them.
The crew said the authorities also questioned them, and inquired the crew what part of the plane were they assigned to.
There was a total of 16 crew member on the plane, they added.
The crew informed Geo News that the authorities have assured them that their passports, which remain confiscated, will be returned before tomorrow when the crew leaves for Pakistan.
The airline is being defamed by giving out false information, the crew alleged.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police said action against PIA crew members was taken by the UKBA which is directly dealt by the Home Office.
PIA claims UK yet to notify about heroin on plane
PIA sources have said that the UKBA and the NCA have yet to notify the airline about the discovery of heroin in the plane. The UKBA, however, has said that the PIA has been notified in both Pakistan and in the UK.
Both PIA and the NCA confirmed that 30 UKBA agents participated in the operation last night. The agents were equipped with cameras, and conducted live filming to secure evidence, assisted by sniffing dogs who were also brought on the plane.
The operation on the plane continued for three hours , after which the plane was declared clean following the complete removal of heroin.
PIA denies crew detained
Earlier a spokesperson for the PIA said the crew members were not detained. According to the spokesperson the 13 crew members, including the pilot, had finished their duties after flying from Islamabad to London. They were never scheduled to fly on PK-785 from London to Lahore in the first place, the spokesperson added.
According to the spokesperson, PK-758 landed in Lahore earlier today accompanied with a new crew. The original crew stayed back in London after its duty had ended, as per schedule, the spokesperson claimed.
The spokesperson further added that passports of the crew members had been returned.
PIA management in London was trying to find out reasons behind the searching of the plane and reports of detention, he added.
According to PIA sources, a protest will be lodged over the heavy handedness of the police.
On February 8, a PIA plane flying to Heathrow Airport was forced to land at London’s Stansted Airport evening over security threats.
According to British Police, the aircraft was diverted due to reports of a disruptive passenger.