Two men have been jailed over a drug smuggling conspiracy in which they were sent cocaine worth up to £60,000 hidden inside a souvenir from Uruguay.
Scott McKay and Richard Turner were caught after Border Force officers intercepted the package at Heathrow airport en route to it being delivered to Leeds from South America.
Turner, 23, was jailed for three years and seven months and McKay, also 23, was sentenced to three years, four months yesterday.
Leeds Crown Court heard 373gms of the drug, which had a high purity level, was hidden inside the cylinders of a wall hanging which was contained in the package.
Caroline Wiggin, prosecuting, said the package was addressed to McKay’s ex-girlfriend’s address on Brownhill Crescent, Harehills, when it was intercepted.
Officers removed the drugs and then arranged for the package to be delivered. A Parcel Force card was sent to the address and Turner impersonated McKay to arrange for the package to be delivered.
The package was delivered to McKay’s home on Hartley Gardens, in Woodhouse, and then taken to Turner’s then home on Queenshill Drive, Moortown.
Officers then arrested the pair at the address. Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import drugs.
Ian Cook, for McKay, said his client had been a recreational drug user who had got into debt with dealers.
He said McKay had agreed to become involved in the offence in a bid to clear his debts. Mr Cook added: “He’s made a stupid mistake.”
Michael Smith, for Turner, now of Wesley Drive, Chapel Allerton, said it was not sophisticated offending.
Mr Smith said Turner worked as a chef and made the calls to arrange the delivery of the parcel from the restaurant where he worked.
He added: “He and Mr McKay are close friends and had this debt. They took different but similar roles and now they have to pay the penalty.”
Jailing them, judge Neil Clark said: “You are very much people who played a lesser role in the importation of these drugs.
“Having said that I am sure both of you realise that class A drugs lead to misery for people – their health is ruined and their families’ lives are ruined.”
Border Force spokesman Malcolm Bragg said: “I am in no doubt that these dangerous and destructive drugs were destined for the streets of West Yorkshire.
“This case sends a strong message to anyone tempted to get involved in the trafficking of drugs.”
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should contact 0800 595000.