Opium smuggler caught at Stansted Airport is jailed for 10 years

PUBLISHED: 20:28 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:28 13 April 2017

Dominique Bergamotto, 54, who has been jailed for 10 years.

Dominique Bergamotto, 54, who has been jailed for 10 years.

Archant

A Belgian man who attempted to smuggle opium through Stansted Airport hidden in the false bottom of a suitcase has been jailed.

Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.

Dominique Bergamotto, 54, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday.

He had admitted attempting to import a Class A drug. Officials hope Bergamotto’s sentence will serve as a warning to others contemplating bringing illegal drugs into the UK.

Bergamotto, of no fixed UK address, was stopped by Border Force officers on March 12 when he arrived at Stansted on a flight from Istanbul.

Mas Naeem, Border Force assistant director at Stansted Airport, said customs officials had been quick to realise there was a hidden section to Bergamotto’s luggage.

Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.

Mr Naeem said: “When his suitcase was X-rayed the drugs could clearly be seen concealed in a hidden compartment and tests confirmed that it was opium.

“There is no doubt that had he not been stopped, these dangerous drugs would have ended up being sold on the UK’s streets.

“Border Force work in close partnership with both UK and international law enforcement agencies.

“In protecting the national border, we act decisively and deal robustly with those who seek to smuggle dangerous articles and illegal substances into the UK.

Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.

“This case should serve as a warning to others.”

The drugs totalled approximately 10.6kg and had an estimated street value of £200,000.

Following the seizure by Border Force, the investigation was passed to the National Crime Agency.

Border Force officers use hi-tech search equipment to combat immigration crime and detect banned and restricted goods that smugglers attempt to bring into the country.

Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.Photos of the seizure of opium from Bergamotto's suitcase.

They use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and cigarettes which Border Force said would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities. Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to drug smuggling can call the smuggling hotline on 0800 59 5000.

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