Two men from Hull have been jailed for smuggling over 50kg of heroin with a street value of £13m into the UK in packets of baby powder. Allan Riley, 57, and Paul Cahain, 28, were sentenced to a combined total of 20 years after the pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply a controlled substance at a previous hearing.
The scheme was described as "simple yet ingenious" by prosecutor Paul Mitchell. Packages containing baby powder were sent from Bradford to Pakistan before the powder was replaced with heroin and returned marked "undeliverable". The drugs were then sent to 18 different addresses in Hull, where the pair would pay home-owners £100 each to accept the packages on their behalf.
They were caught after postal workers in Hull became suspicious of the large number of similar boxes arriving from Pakistan each week. Officers from The UK Border Agency (UKBA) intercepted three undelivered parcels, each weighing over 5kg and containing eight baby powder bottles filled with heroin.
The charges admitted by the pair related to 18kg of heroin smuggled in 28 parcels in February and March 2011, but investigators believe they were part of a larger operation which saw 94 packets smuggled, containing drugs with a street value of more than £13m. The court heard how the pair were not the masterminds behind the smuggling plot but looked after the Hull end of the operation.
Riley claimed that he got involved in the plot in order to pay off £15,000 worth of debt to a loan shark after his business collapsed. The court was told that Riley had recently been told that he may have bowel cancer and is waiting for the results of tests, and also how he had a son who died as a result of heroin addiction.
The Judge told him: "To become involved in this filthy operation is absolutely disgraceful."