A man from Albania has admitted smuggling Class A drugs into the UK after a duck statue laced with cocaine was seized at Stansted Airport.

Drugs hidden in gold duck statue

The National Crime Agency launched an investigation last month, when Border Force officers x-rayed a suspect package that had arrived on a flight from Cali in Colombia.

The package – a wooden box containing a hollow gold-coloured duck statue – showed a number of irregularities that led officers to drill holes into it. When a pink sticky substance leaked out, a drugs test was performed which showed a positive result for cocaine.

The substance was found laced within the whole material of the duck, which when extracted would have been broken down into the powdered version of the drug.

On 7 January, NCA officers tracked the package to an address in Milwards, Harlow, where they arrested 29-year-old Aldo Alushi from Albania.

A search of Alushi’s rented bedroom led to the discovery of five mobile phones, and a variety of identity documents in different names.

Alushi had been living illegally in the UK and initially stated that the statue did not belong to him. He said he was receiving the parcel on behalf of another Albanian man who had helped him get in the country.

On 18 February at Chelmsford Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to importing drugs into the UK. He will be sentenced on 11 March.

Lydia Bloomfield, Branch Commander at the NCA, said: “This is certainly one of the most unusual attempts to smuggle drugs we’ve seen, and it shows the lengths that organised crime groups are willing to go in an attempt to avoid detection.

“The cocaine trade fuels significant further criminality, most notably serious violence, both upstream where the drug is sourced and here on the streets of the UK. Our work with partners like Border Force is key to disrupting class A supply chains and dismantling those groups behind the trade.”

Martin Hendy, Deputy Director of Border Force for Central Region, said: “Drug supply chains are violent and exploitative, degrading neighbourhoods across our 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. Those involved can be proud of their work and particularly those officers that intercepted and stopped this harmful drug from entering our communities.”