Woman had cocaine worth £1m at Edinburgh Airport

Dawn Sylla claimed she was arriving in Edinburgh from West Africa to visit a daughter in the city. Picture: PA
Dawn Sylla claimed she was arriving in Edinburgh from West Africa to visit a daughter in the city. Picture: PA
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A WOMAN drug smuggler was caught with cocaine worth more than £1 million on the streets after she went through the “Nothing to Declare” channel at Edinburgh Airport.

Dawn Sylla, 55, claimed she was arriving in Edinburgh from West Africa to visit a daughter in the city but an x-ray of her suitcase revealed an object hidden in the base..

Three taped blocks of cocaine were found which had the potential to produce £1,081,200 worth of the Class A drug in one gram deals on the streets because of its quality.

A judge at the High Court in Edinburgh said: “Somebody has lost a lot of money.”

Lord Uist pointed out that the cocaine seized on Sylla was “a very high purity.”

First offender Sylla, an Englishwoman married to a Gambian and living in his African homeland, admitted being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the ban on importing controlled drugs such as cocaine.

She was stopped at Edinburgh airport on March 4 this year after arriving on a flight from Brussels after travelling there from Dakar, in Senegal.

Advocate depute David Taylor told the court that at the time of her arrival the UK Border Agency had received intelligence in relation to her.

She went through the green channel after disembarking and was seen to be carrying a bag and suitcase.

Border Agency officers intercepted her for questioning. The contents of her case were emptied out and after an item was detected concealed in its base it was pierced to reveal a powder which gave a positive reaction for cocaine.

Blonde Sylla, a British passport holder, originally from Morecambe, in Lancashire, was detained and found to have two mobile phones and a notebook containing an entry that she was to meet a man called ‘Michal’.

Mr Taylor said a total of 4.7 kilos of cocaine in three blocks was found, but each was between 55 and 59 per cent pure.

The prosecutor said: “In the source country the purchase price of cocaine is relatively low and it rises as it moves along the global chain of supply.”

Mr Taylor said cocaine of that purity could cost between pounds 190,000 and 260,000 when bought wholesale in Britain.

“There may be an element of discount due to the large quantity involved and dependent on the relationship between the parties in the chain,” he said.

But the advocate depute said the drugs could have been cut with adulterants to produce more than 27 kilos of the Class A drug for street sales in one gram deals sold for £40 each.

He said the consignment could have produced a total of 27,030 street deals.

Lord Uist told Sylla that as she had never previously offended nor been sentenced to imprisonment he needed to get a background report on her.

The judge adjourned the case for sentence until next month and remanded Sylla, described as a prisoner in Edinburgh, in custody.

The court heard she twice made applications for bail during earlier appearances at Edinburgh Sheriff Court but each was refused.