By SAM GREENHILL FOR THE DAILY MAIL
UPDATED: 10:22 BST, 17 February 2009
An aircrew arrested after £250,000 of cocaine was discovered in baggage on a plane have been released on bail.
The 15 South African Airways employees were arrested after UK Border Agency officers found 5kg of the class A drug when their flight from Johannesburg arrived at Heathrow yesterday.
The nine men and six women were interviewed by customs officers and bailed to return to Heathrow Police Station in April.
Bob Gaiger, HM Revenue & Customs Heathrow spokesman, said: ‘Crew members are subject to the same customs checks as any other person when entering the UK.
‘HMRC together with UKBA play a vital role in the fight to prevent illegal drugs from entering the UK and in protecting our communities from the violence and corruption that always accompany this hideous trade.’
The latest arrests follow a similar incident on January 21, when a 15-member crew from the same airline was arrested after cocaine and cannabis worth £310,000 was found on their flight.
50kg of cannabis, with a street value of £150,000, and 4kg of cocaine, worth £160,000, was found in bags when the flight landed at Heathrow.
The crew was released on unconditional bail, and was due to report back to HMRC investigators at Heathrow Police Station on March 23.
South African Airways (SAA) spokeswoman Robyn Chalmers said: ‘Following yesterday’s incident, the airline is again co-operating fully with the British authorities in an investigation that is currently under way.
‘An investigation in Johannesburg, involving SAA Aviation Security and the South African Police Service Crime Intelligence Unit, is also under way to establish how security procedures were breached.
‘SAA remains committed to a zero-tolerance approach towards the use of the airline’s services for any criminal activity and will continue to closely monitor the situation.’
NOTE FROM WEBSITE AUTHORS:
Again, we do sympathise with the volitile situation that airline employees might face regarding illicit trafficking by other crew members HOWEVER, we would like to know WHY a 2nd SAA Crew have received preferential treatment in this matter.
There has been NO intervention from the South African authorities for any one of the other 1000+ South Africans detained abroad.
We are in contact with many South African Citizens who have been detained in foreign countries on similar charges. Several are innocent, however the SA Foreign Office and SA Embassy have blatantly refused to engage and assist with other cases.
In cases where Fair Trials of London have found discrepencies in Court Transcripts, where legal representation has been denied, where inhumanity and injustice has been forced upon South African citizens the Foreign Office has REFUSED TO INTERVENE!!!
So why now??… not once .. TWICE!
The SAA Crew were released on bail and sent back to South Africa to be investigated and tried under South African Law!
This is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION of the supposed Policies of the South African Foreign Office!