On behalf of providers in other jurisdictions, officials at airports and other ports of entry frequently intercept people carrying controlled substances in their luggage, clothing, or inside their bodies. Mule is a phrase used to describe such persons. They could have been forced to carry the narcotics, or they could have done it for a charge, or both.

Large quantities are occasionally discovered, although they are often the leftovers from a vacation or business trip overseas, maybe in an area where drug usage is more frequently condoned by law authorities.

However, committing this offence can have serious consequences.

The crime

Drugs are transported into the jurisdiction in a variety of innovative ways. Cocaine in liquid form can be transferred while being disguised as something else. Human carriers may consume a variety of pellets containing various medications. Naturally, the police and other related organisations are quick to detect these methods as they emerge, resulting in people who run the gauntlet being accused and sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence, despite believing they had outwitted their opponents.

The law

The underlying offence is breaching the prohibition on the importation and exportation of controlled drugs created by section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This prohibition is paired with the substantive offence which is contained in section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.


The penalty imposed on someone who pleads guilty or is found guilty of this crime depends on a number of criteria. These factors include the individual’s role in the activity, the amount and kind of the substance in question, and their level of cooperation with the authorities (as with practically any offence).

The sentences are often harsh; even the smallest amount of drug nearly always results in prison, and sentences of 10 – 20 years, or more, are common when the quantity is considerable.

There are, however, a slew of circumstances that could lessen the severity of the offence or provide useful mitigation — it’s critical that a lawyer investigates these on your behalf.


The maximum penalties for offences of this type vary depending on the type of drugs in question:

–    Class A, life imprisonment;

–    Class B and C, 14 years’ imprisonment;

Case studies

In Gregory [2012] EWCA Crim 649, the appellant’s sentence of imprisonment was reduced from 8 years to 6 years as the original sentence did not sufficiently reflect the appellant’s relatively minor role and the fact that he believed he was carrying cannabis rather than cocaine.Conversely, the appellant in Burns [2009] EWCA Crim 1123 received an increased sentence upon a reference by the Attorney-General, from 8 years to 14 years’ imprisonment, to better reflect the fact that he had abused his professional role as a distribution supervisor by allowing cocaine importations.

There is a comprehensive sentencing guideline which Judges use when they are deciding on a sentance.