A London-born dual national, Scott Parker, living in Benoni, Guateng in South Africa, was handed a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence for smuggling heroin, when he appeared at Isleworth Crown Court on June 18, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The 43-year-old, who worked for a company which transports animals, pleaded guilty to attempting to import a class A drug, the NCA added.
He was arrested by the NCA on November 21 last year, at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, after staff alerted the Border Force of a crate used to transport animals from Johannesburg which was unusually heavy when empty.
Officers examined the crates and found compartments containing packages of the class A drug in the base, the NCA said.
Forensic tests showed the packages consisted of around 9k of high purity heroin, which if cut and sold in the UK would have a street vale of around £1.2m.
The cats were reunited with their owners, who were completely unaware their animals had been used as a front for smuggling.
Ian Truby, from the NCA’s Border Investigation Team at Heathrow, said: “This was a highly unusual attempt to bring a substantial quantity of class A drugs into the UK.
“Parker thought he would avoid our attention. But the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre staff were vigilant and our investigation showed that he knew the drugs were there.
“Working with Border Force we will continue to target those who attempt to bring illegal drugs into the UK.”