A MAN has been jailed after he tried to use his young family as cover to smuggle 12kg of cannabis through Portsmouth ferry port.
Armin El Faghloumi hid the drugs, worth £34,500, in the lining of his family’s suitcases and pretended he was returning from an ordinary family holiday.
The cannabis resin was uncovered when border police searched three vehicles, that were all part of Faghloumi’s group, after they arrived from Bilbao.
The 36-year-old father-of-four insisted they had been on a family holiday.
But both he and his partner, Fatima Benyermak, were arrested over the crime.
Benyermak, 49, was cleared of having anything to do with the cannabis after a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Faghloumi, a British national, who is originally from Morocco, pleaded guilty to importing the class B drug.
Jailing him for three years and four months, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘You used the cover of other members of your family, in particular your wife and other young members of the family, to portray this entry by three vehicles into the country as simply an ordinary family returning from holiday.
‘Quite apart from the quantity of the drugs involved, which had a significant retail value as you would have been well aware, the offence was aggravated by the fact that you did involve others in what was undoubtedly your criminal enterprise.’ Gareth Burrows, defending, said that Faghloumi, of Portnall Road, Westminster, London, had been to see a friend in Tangier, Morocco, who had threatened him to make him bring the cannabis back in August last year.
But the court heard he had previously been jailed for three years, in 2001, for bringing 22kg of cannabis to the UK.
And in 2006 he was jailed for money-laundering after he was caught trying to take £8,000 out of the country.
The judge rejected Faghloumi’s claim that he had been pressured into delivering the drugs.
‘There is of course no substantiation of that claim and I am sceptical about it,’ he said. ‘You were someone who was well used to doing what you did on this occasion, you were experienced in it.
‘I do not find that this was simply an isolated occasion when you were under pressure from someone you refer to as a friend.
‘At the very least you voluntarily took part in this importation, which you organised knowing that you had a previous conviction for precisely the same thing.’