A Banstead man was “at the centre” of a network of cocaine smugglers operating from Heathrow Airport who have collectively been jailed for 139 years.

British Airways baggage handler Joysen Jhurry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import cocaine and cannabis, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The operation was ended in December 2016, after an 18-month investigation led by the National Crime Agency.

Officers watched as Jhurry, 41, with accomplices, arranged to move suitcases containing drugs off planes and place them on baggage carousels.

These bags were collected by couriers flying from elsewhere in the UK, skipping customs controls.

They smuggled at least £16 million worth of drugs in this way, with cocaine being flown in from Brazil at least six times.

Jhurry, of Grange Gardens, pleaded guilty along with four others, and six went to trial.

They were all sentenced on Tuesday, April 17, at Southwark Crown Court.

NCA regional head of investigations Brendan Foreman said: “This was a sophisticated plot and at the centre of it was a man who used his privileged access to Heathrow and insider knowledge of the airport’s systems for criminal purposes.

“This kind of corruption threatens the security of the UK border and the public at large which is why the NCA and its partners are tackling it as a priority.”