Inside job?: PIA aircraft carries heroin along with passengers

Published: June 28, 2012
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Customs officers seize 4.5kg of heroin from panelling in the toilets.

Customs officers seize 4.5kg of heroin from panelling in the toilets.

KARACHI: Around 4.5 kilogrammes of heroin was seized from a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft in Karachi that was departing for London via Lahore and the airport staff has been identified as prime suspects.

“This has happened a hundred times,” says Customs Spokesperson Qamar Thalho, while referring to Wednesday’s incident on PIA flight PK-787. “About 20 years ago, it used to be gold that we used to find in the toilets of aircraft, up to 140, 000 grams of gold at a time, and now we see that it’s mostly heroin being smuggled in the toilet compartments.”

Thalho says that the heroin was placed within panelling in the toilets and sometimes, it is also put underneath the commode. The heroin, wrapped inside plastic bags, was discovered by the customs Drug Enforcement Cell.

“No third party has access to the plane in the hangers or on the runway which means that the heroin could only be put in by a staff member,” says Thalho.

“People who work in maintenance and repairs are the ones with the easiest access and in the past, we’ve seen even smuggling goods being brought in through catering trays.”

Thalho says that such attempts are made quite frequently and boldly, citing the example of a PIA flight in which smuggled gold was found.

A case has been registered under the Control of Narcotics Subtances Act, 1997 by the Investigation and Prosecution branch of the customs.

“The investigation has just started. First we will determine which crew was working in the hangar at that time and also identify others who had access to the plane. After the suspects are interrogated, we can confirm who was involved,” explains Thalho. “The culprit is most probably an insider.”

The customs register their own FIRs independently and if given remand, the suspects remain in their custody for the duration of the remand.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (21)

  • Haris Javed
    Jun 28, 2012 - 10:07AM

    Incompetent staff, late flights, lack of fuel, tire puncture, rats in the plane.. . and now heroine

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  • Rana Amjad
    Jun 28, 2012 - 10:39AM

    Great people to put Heroin in the aircraft!

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  • Ali
    Jun 28, 2012 - 11:39AM

    Maybe a out of the box way to bring the national carrier out of its financial problems. Good thing our boys caught them rather than in London. Would have been even messier.Recommend

  • Jun 28, 2012 - 11:42AM

    Moonlighting gone wrong.

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  • Malik
    Jun 28, 2012 - 12:36PM

    Those involved in this racket are, Local Customs, PIA employees in engineering, PIA technical staff stationed in UK, ASF Security, PIA security, PIA Ramp and Catering Services and Cabin Cleaning technical services. If the ASF were not involved this huge amount of Heroin could not have entered the airport apron including Hangars. Where are the ANF and Custom sniffing dogs? What can u expect when the son of our PM was involved in Ephedrine scam?.

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  • Nasir
    Jun 28, 2012 - 12:58PM

    these people will surely make us proud in front of the world.very skill full and competent in unethical activities

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  • Ayaan
    Jun 28, 2012 - 1:53PM

    Great people to “get high” with!

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  • BaBa Blacksheep
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:39PM

    How ungrateful we are.Poor PIA tried to provide us free Happy Hours.

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  • MyHeartSpeaks
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:58PM

    Let’s start PIAgate….. :) .And I presume the last one would be Pakistan-gate

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  • Dil Dil Pakistan
    Jun 28, 2012 - 2:59PM

    No wonder delays are common with PIA flights. Time is needed to embed the heroin into the commode.

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  • Analyzer
    Jun 28, 2012 - 3:19PM

    Haha. This gives new meaning to PIA’s slogan, ‘Great people to FLY with’.

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  • wah wah
    Jun 28, 2012 - 4:05PM

    this is a very short sighted approach by the authorities concerned. At a time where Pakistan’s exports are plunging, this was an effort by a concerned citizen to earn foreign exchange for the motherland. This would have solved the problems of militancy, poverty and power in a single stroke…

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  • Shahrukh kazmi
    Jun 28, 2012 - 4:07PM

    Really we are not Thankful for anything. I would say not Great but thoughtful people to fly with.

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  • Butt
    Jun 28, 2012 - 5:17PM

    Yesterday, people were blaming on NATO trucks. Truth is out there.

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  • LionOfPunjab
    Jun 28, 2012 - 7:08PM

    According to just released UN reports, about $30 billion worth of drug passes through pakistan every year. $30 Billion a year! Too many people from generals to lowly PIA staff make $$ from these. I dont think any authority wants to stop it!

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  • Dil Dil Pakistan
    Jun 28, 2012 - 7:22PM

    @Analyzer

    In light of the latest development, the slogan should be: “Great People to get High with.”

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  • Ali
    Jun 28, 2012 - 8:27PM

    At the destination someone takes the delivery of these items, and transport them out of that airport. Who are those people?

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  • Doosam
    Jun 28, 2012 - 9:24PM

    Could be anyone with access to the aircraft including pilots, stewards, maintenance crew, cleaners etc. because everyone from top to bottom is corrupt in this country.

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  • Sajid
    Jun 28, 2012 - 10:17PM

    PIA. Great people to get high with.

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  • Naseer Qureshi
    Jul 6, 2012 - 7:25PM

    The whole country and almost everbody at every level either in gov., beaurocracy or private citizen is engulfed and saturated in corruption, faud, moneylaundering, tax evasion, theft, robbery, price gouging, lying and terrorism of some sort.
    May God continue to Bless Pakistan

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  • Jul 24, 2012 - 9:57AM

    Airport officials need to have security cameras installed to catch the culprits and prevent future incidents like these if they have not done so alreadyRecommend

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