A man from Blackpool has been sentenced to 24 years in prison for attempting to import heroin worth a potential £26 million into the UK inside an oven.
The drugs were discovered hidden deep within the commercial oven, which had been imported from Iran, at Manchester Airport on 10 April this year.
Border Force officers stripped away metal panels and rendering bricks at the rear of the oven, where they found more than 120 tape-wrapped packages, each containing around a kilo of heroin.
It is believed to be the biggest ever seizure of heroin at Manchester Airport.
National Crime Agency investigators were able to trace Ian Graham, 45, of Raikes Parade in Blackpool, and obtained CCTV footage him paying freight charges for the shipment at a bank in his home town using a false identity.
On 18 April he drove to the airport freight centre in a hired van to collect the oven, where he was arrested by the NCA.
Graham (pictured) was found guilty of importing heroin on Friday 7 October following a trial, and at Manchester Crown Court (Crown Square) on Monday 10 October he was given a 24 year jail term.
Robert Miles, head of the NCA’s Manchester Border Investigation Team, said: “This was a substantial quantity of class A drugs, the profits from which would have ended up fueling further criminal activity both in the UK and abroad.
“Had he not been arrested Graham would have played a crucial role in getting that heroin onto our streets.”
Emma Porter Deputy Director for Border Force at Manchester, said: “This was a substantial detection of heroin, the biggest Border Force has ever made at Manchester Airport.
“The smugglers had used an elaborate concealment in an attempt to circumvent border controls and the fact that we were able to keep these Class A drugs off the streets of the UK, where they can do so much damage to communities, is a real testament to my officers’ training and expertise.
“Working with our colleagues in the NCA we are determined to do all we can to prevent drug smuggling and put those responsible behind bars.”