Hard-up dad on Universal Credit smuggled cocaine worth £360k from Jamaica to Gatwick Airport

By Staff

A hard-up dad who smuggled cocaine worth £360,000 hidden in his suitcase on a flight from Jamaica to London Gatwick Airport said he did it to support his family. Seth Allen, 27, a former machine setter from Birmingham, found himself jobless at the end of last year, struggling to support his pregnant girlfriend and two children on just £300 a month in Universal Credit payments.

Looking for a quick fix, he agreed to work as a courier for a drug trafficker, then hopped on a plane to the Caribbean on Boxing Day 2023. After spending nearly a month there, during which time Allen almost backed out of the scheme, on January 16 he returned from Kingston on a flight to London Gatwick Airport with 4.5kg of cocaine hidden in a secret compartment at the bottom of his suitcase.

But as he rolled through customs, Allen was stopped by Border Force officials who pulled him aside at Gatwick’s South Terminal and questioned him about his trip. Allen claimed he had been on holiday, that he had packed the bag himself, that he had nothing to declare, and no one had forced him to smuggle anything into the UK, prosecutor Henna Baig told the Old Bailey.

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This all turned out to be lies, and a search of his suitcase revealed heat-sealed plastic packages with 4.5kg of white powder that was confirmed as 70 per cent purity cocaine in the airport’s lab. Under questioning, Allen told police he was doing it for money because he had become unemployed, but he refused to hand over any more details about his drug trafficking contacts in the UK or Jamaica.

Allen was arrested and charged, and pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of the prohibition of a banned drug at Croydon Magistrates’ Court a day later on January 17. Appearing at the Old Bailey by video link on Wednesday, March 13, Allen spoke only to confirm his name and his earlier guilty plea.

Defence counsel David Forsyth said his client has a partner and two children, with one more on the way, and ‘was anxious to provide for his family’ because he had lost his job as a machine setter and was only receiving £300 a month in benefits. Mr Forsyth said Allen understood he would be going to prison, but called for the shortest sentence possible.

As he jailed Allen for four years, Judge John Hillen delivered a withering attack on the global drugs trade, telling the court: “You were playing a key role in an evil chain… Your crime has ramifications in the community… It is not far-fetched to say that cocaine users in London or Birmingham, or couriers, have blood on their hands, however far removed.”

Speaking after the sentence, NCA Branch Commander Chris Duplock said: “Organised crime groups rely on couriers like Seth Allen to bring illegal drugs into the UK. Working with partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to target smugglers and disrupt the criminal networks who recruit them.”

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