A DRUG smuggler from Oldham packed almost £1 million of high-strength heroin into bags and tried to import it into the country through Birmingham Airport.

Mohammed Uzair Rashid arrived at the airport on a flight from Pakistan six months ago.

Border Force officers singled Rashid out for a search and soon discovered around 18 kilograms of the class A drug, which was between 66 and 70 per cent purity.

He denied the bags were his, then tried to claim the drug had been planted inside them.

The Oldham Times: CCTV of Rashid at Birmingham AirportCCTV of Rashid at Birmingham Airport

However, an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) revealed enough evidence to convince him to admit the offence.

Included in the evidence were WhatsApp messages recovered from Rashid's phone, which showed he was in contact with someone referred to as 'Brother' while at the airport in Pakistan. One of the messages said: "Remain tension free... God will be generous."

And on Friday, Rashid, of no fixed address, was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment.

Niall Conner, operations manager at the NCA, hailed the severe sentence handed to the 35-year-old at Birmingham Crown Court.

The Oldham Times: CCTV of Rashid at Birmingham AirportCCTV of Rashid at Birmingham Airport

He said: "Rashid's story should be a cautionary one for anyone considering getting involved in drug smuggling.

"He might have thought he could make a bit of money on the side, but instead he is serving a long and life-changing prison sentence.

"Heroin is a drug which fuels violence and exploitation in our communities, where we often see it sold by County Lines street gangs.

"This is why we are working with partners to do all we can to disrupt supply chains and track down those bringing it into the UK."

The Oldham Times: Officers discovered around 18kg of heroinOfficers discovered around 18kg of heroin

Neal Broad, assistant director at Border Force for Birmingham and East Midlands, added: "The sentencing of Rashid is the result of hard work and dedication from Border Force and NCA to secure the UK’s borders and prosecute those who seek to smuggle illegal drugs into the country.

"Border Force’s work with the NCA to stop drugs entering the UK is a core part of the Government’s 10-year drug strategy to cut crime and save lives."