A man who drove more than 7,000 miles only to be caught trying to enter the UK with class A drugs in his fuel tank has been jailed for nine years.
Bahram Badiani, 47, from Earls Court Road in London was stopped by Border Force officers as he attempted to board a Channel Tunnel service from France to England on 25 November 2015. Initially he told officers he had come from the Mont Blanc area of France where he had visited a girlfriend.
A search of his BMW revealed that 17 bottles containing around six kilos of opium, with an estimated street value of more than £90,000, had been hidden in the fuel tank. Officers also found an Iranian passport and more than £9,000 cash in Sterling, Euros and other currencies hidden in the boot. The passport had stamps showing he had recently travelled through Turkey.
National Crime Agency officers were called in to investigate. In interviews Badiani claimed the trip was a holiday to visit family in Iran and he had no knowledge of the drugs in the fuel tank.
NCA investigators found evidence that he had driven from London through France and Italy, got a ferry across to Greece, and then drove overland through Greece and Turkey to the Iranian capital Tehran. The journey took him five days.
When asked why he had attempted the gruelling journey by car, spending more than a thousand pounds on petrol when a flight to Tehran would have taken just a few hours and cost half the price, Badiani said he did it because he loved driving.
Checks on his phones showed Badiani had made a similar journey earlier in the year, and on that occasion he had written off another BMW in a crash in Greece. A photo of the wrecked car was found on his handset. Officers found he had paid £2000 to have it transported back to the UK despite the damaged car being worth only a few hundred in scrap.
NCA checks with his bank showed that cash deposits totalling around £18,000 had been made into his account in the months before his arrest.
Badiani continued to deny attempting to import class A drugs, but following a six day trial he was found guilty at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday 11 September. He was sentenced to nine years in prison the same day.
Ian Truby, from the NCA’s border investigation team, said:
“We see a lot of creative smuggling attempts, but this was the first 7,000 mile round road trip.
“It was a costly one for Mr Badiani – at the time he wouldn’t have known that every half mile he drove would equate to a day in prison when he got back to Britain.
“He changed his story consistently but the jury saw through his lies. This was no holiday, he was a professional drug smuggler and knew exactly what he was doing.”