Why Are So Many Americans Getting Caught Smuggling Weed From LAX To UK? Brits Link Surge To Drug Gangs

Zinger Key Points
  • British authorities find the sudden rise of US-based weed smugglers to be odd and are looking for connections.
  • Thousands of pounds of cannabis stashed into checked bags arrived in the UK in recent months.

We’re up to at least 26 by now with numerous convictions being handed down as we speak. 

Smuggling large quantities of bulky weed stashed into suitcases that go through various detection machines seems a bit absurd. What's going on?

What Happened: Over the course of one week in January alone, nine Americans flew nearly 750 pounds of cannabis from LAX to Heathrow Airport, according to British authorities. All were arrested, of course.

The British media reported Monday that two Americans arrested last month at Heathrow - one with nearly 55 pounds of weed and the other with 60 pounds stashed in their checked suitcases - were sentenced to eight and ten months respectively.

Several more have received similar sentences and surely there are more to come. 

This all begs a question: why are all these young Americans taking on reckless risks and who is benefitting? 

Underworld Gangs, Say The Brits

The National Crime Agency (NCA), Britain’s FBI, says they’re arriving from states where weed is legal with plans to sell it at a premium to underworld gangs in the UK. 

NCA Heathrow Branch Commander Andy Noyes said in a press release on Monday that organized crime gangs need couriers. 

“Couriers are often recruited with promises of payment or free holidays. But in reality, these attempts just end in jail sentences,” Noyes said.

The NCA also finds the sudden rise of US-based weed smugglers to be odd, though high-quality California cannabis can sell for ten times more in the UK.  

“We are working to understand how these seizures are connected, however, to get this many off the same route in such a short period of time is clearly very unusual,” said the NCA’s senior investigating officer Darren Barr.

US Smuggling Ring

An analysis by VICE World News of available NCA evidence and court cases poses that it’s “highly likely” that those already convicted of smuggling the cannabis could have been recruited, possibly online, supplied with prepacked locked suitcases full of weed and then dispatched to the UK by a US-based drug smuggling ring. And, Vice pointed out, the majority of those caught are Black or mixed-race Americans with no past drug offenses but with difficult financial, personal or family issues, making them vulnerable to such schemes. 

'I'd urge anyone considering smuggling cannabis into the UK, whether from the US or elsewhere, to think twice. It isn't worth the risk," warned Noyes.

"The NCA and our partners in Border Force are targeting drugs smugglers and will do all we can to disrupt the gangs involved."

Photo: Benzinga collage of photos by: unopark, Joseph Sohm and Tom Eversley on Shutterstock

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