Heroin seized from PIA plane at Heathrow Airport: UK authorities

Customs authorities in Pakistan have also started an investigation into the matter

LONDON: 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 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.

Scenes from inside the plane
Scenes from inside the plane

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 and their passports were held by the UKBA which states that further questioning might take place.

PIA station manager Sajid ullah has confirmed that the authorities have handed back the passport of the pilot, while the rest of the crew will get their passports tomorrow.

Custom authorities in Pakistan begin probe

Customs authorities in Pakistan have started an investigation into how the plane laden with heroin was provided clearance to fly.

The authorities have begun a probe against staff responsible for giving the clearance.

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.

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

Earlier, PIA sources 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

Scenes from inside the plane
Scenes from inside the plane

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.

With additional input from Adnan Malik from Lahore