Jorge Pablo Samano Galas, 43, was caught after arriving at Heathrow Airport on a flight from his native Mexico in May.
The alarm was raised by staff at the site’s Animal Aircare Reception Centre after they noticed the travel cage was “unusually heavy, oddly sized and smelt strongly of paint stripper” during a routine welfare check.
On closer examination, they found ten 1kg blocks of cocaine hidden inside a false base attached to the crate.
Samano Galas was then arrested when he came to collect the animal.
Staff at the reception centre were so taken with two-year-old Camila, described as an “unwitting accomplice” by investigators, that one of them has now become her new permanent owner.
Under questioning, Samano Galas initially told officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) that he bought the canine from a rescue centre in Mexico a few weeks prior and had booked a holiday in the UK so that the pair could “bond”.
However investigators discovered it cost him more than £3,000 to ship the dog – but he had not booked a return journey.
Subsequent enquires exposed “multiple other inconsistencies” in his story, including evidence that he had repeatedly changed his travel dates and route to the UK.
Cocaine smugglers like Samano Galas play a crucial role in the business model of international organised crime groups, and their activities perpetuate violence and intimidation throughout the UK.
‘A friendly, affectionate girl’
NCA senior manager Darren Barr described the incident as “a cynical attempt to bring hundreds of thousands of pounds of class A drugs into the UK”.
He added: “Cocaine smugglers like Samano Galas play a crucial role in the business model of international organised crime groups, and their activities perpetuate violence and intimidation throughout the UK.
“While Samano Galas now faces prison, the story will have a happier ending for his unwitting accomplice Camila, who will spend the rest of her life in a happy home.”
Jake Holliday, head of animal welfare at Heathrow, said: “We decided to foster Camila while the NCA investigation was ongoing to ensure that she was given the love she deserved.
“It quickly became apparent that she was a friendly, affectionate girl who thrived off meeting new people.
“Now, after many months, it’s been confirmed that Camila can go home with one of our animal welfare officers, who she adores.
“We will miss her dearly – not least because her office antics kept us in hysterics – but we are so glad she will be looked after by someone who has been there with her since she first arrived.”
A man is due to appear in court after cocaine with an estimated street value of £1m was seized by police in Aberdeen.
Officers recovered the drugs after raiding a property in the city’s Ferrier Gardens on Tuesday afternoon.
Police Scotland arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with the incident.
The suspect is expected to appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Detective Inspector Robin Sim said: “This is a significant recovery and is an example of our efforts to disrupt the trade in illegal drugs in the northeast of Scotland.”
DI Sim added: “This operation also underlines our commitment to the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce and the country’s Serious Organised Crime Strategy.
“Activity such as this is driven by community intelligence and I would urge anyone with information or concerns about drugs to contact us on 101, or make a call anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
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