Drug Importation Solicitors

At JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors, we have been advising and representing clients facing charges for serious drug offences for over 40 years. With specific expertise in importation of drugs cases, we can provide expert support at all stages of proceedings, protecting your legal rights and helping to secure the best available outcome for you. 

Our importation of drugs solicitors represent clients from a diverse background and speak a wide range of languages, so can provide clear, effective advice no matter who you are. With a track record of success for our clients under even the most difficult circumstances, we have earned a reputation for first class representation in serious drug offence cases.

  • Have you, a friend or family member been arrested for importation of drugs?
  • Are you required to attend a police station by appointment?
  • Have you been bailed to return to the police station?
  • Have you been charged with importation of drugs?
  • Have you received a postal summons or requisition?

For a free initial consultation on your legal position and the available options, contact our local offices in LondonBirmingham or Manchester.

Need immediate legal support? Our accredited Police Station Representatives are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Please use the emergency numbers listed at the top of the page for on-the-spot specialist legal representation for importation of drugs charges.

The crime of importing controlled drugs into the UK is extremely serious.  Should you be charged with this offence, expert legal advice and representation is essential.  JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors have over forty years’ experience acting in some of the most high-profile criminal cases in England and Wales.  If you have been charged with importation of a controlled drug, you can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Our law firm is Lexcel accredited, meaning we meet the highest levels of good management and customer care set by the Law Society of England and Wales.  In addition, we were awarded the Law Society Excellence in Practice Management Award in 2012.  Our expert team speaks multiple languages and we have approved external interpreters who can assist us if required.

Due to our robust record in providing successful criminal defence, we enjoy relationships with skilful and experienced barristers.  You can be confident that when you instruct our team, we will work with the best counsel and ensure every aspect and consequence of your defence is fully explained to you.  We have represented all types of clients accused of importing drugs into the UK, from holidaymakers bringing home illicit substances to sophisticated organised crime rings.

Not only can we represent you in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, we can also provide 24-hour police station representation.  Remember, anything you say or do can play a decisive role in the outcome of your criminal matter, therefore it is crucial you get immediate professional advice and support as soon as possible following arrest.

What is the law governing the importation of drugs?

The law around the offence of importing a controlled drug into the UK is provided by the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (CEMA), sections 50 and 70.  Section 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Act prohibits the importation and exportation of controlled drugs. 

Section 50 of the CEMA – improper importation of goods

It is an offence under Section 50 of the CEMA to land or unload from any ship, aircraft or port prohibited or restricted goods (this includes drugs) or goods in which customs duty is owned but has not been paid.  The section also makes it an offence to remove any such goods from the place they were imported to, such as a wharf or transit shed.

An offence is committed by anyone who imports or is linked with the importation of prohibited or restricted goods whether or not the goods are unloaded.  Smuggling goods in a container which is labelled as holding goods of a legal nature is also an offence under section 50.

Section 70 of the CEMA – fraudulent evasion of duty

Section 70 is the more widely used section relating to a charge of importing drugs.  It provides that it is an offence to knowingly acquire possession of an item with intent to defraud or to evade customs duty or to avoid any prohibition or restriction.  It is also an offence to be ‘knowingly concerned’ in carrying, removing, depositing, harbouring, keeping or concealing or dealing with such an item.

What is meant by ‘fraudulent evasion’?

If you are tried under section 70, the prosecution is required to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you deliberately and dishonestly tried to evade the duty, prohibition, or restrictions placed on the article imported.  Therefore, your state of mind when you performed the evasive acts will be of key importance, rather than the moment the drugs were actually imported.  For example, in R v Jackman, the accused intended to import two bags containing cannabis into the UK via a flight from Ghana.  She had a change of heart in Paris and abandoned the bags there.  Airport officials, believing the bags to have been misrouted, dutifully sent them onto London, where the contents were discovered.  Although the defendant did not physically bring the cannabis into the UK, she had intended to import the drugs when she initially checked them through from Ghana.

Our criminal defence Solicitors will take the time to understand the entirety of your actions to establish if there is a defence of a lack of intent.  If you did not intend to import the drugs or you changed your mind part way through the process, we will construct a persuasive argument to present to the Court on your behalf.

What other defences available for a charge of importing drugs?

There are several other defences available if you are charged with importing drugs into the UK; for example, if you were unaware that the goods imported were subject to a prohibition or restriction on importation.

The potential to be charged with importing drugs has increased thanks to the proliferation of internet pharmacy websites selling drugs such as Viagra.  If you have been charged with importing a drug that you did not know was an illegal substance, or you were sent an illegal drug when you ordered a legal one, we can provide you with support, advice, and robust court representation.

Will my case be tried in the Magistrates’ Court or the Crown Court?

Most of the offences of importing controlled drugs are tried in the Crown Court as they are too serious to be dealt with in the Magistrates' Court.

All criminal cases start off in the Magistrates’ Court.  The Magistrates will decide whether your case should remain in the Magistrates’ Court or, if there are difficult issues to be considered, be moved to the Crown Court.

If you are unsure of which court to have your case tried in, we will provide practical advice on which option will best serve your interests.

What is the sentence for importing illegal drugs into the UK?

If you are convicted of importing drugs into the country, the chance of receiving a prison sentence is high.  Therefore, it is crucial to instruct us as soon as possible, to ensure we can build a strong defence in your favour. 

The sentencing of drug offences is governed by the Sentencing Council’s Definitive Guideline for Drug Offences.  These guidelines provide a starting point for the judge on which to base the sentence.  He or she is then required to look at any aggravating factors which could lead to the sentence being increased from the starting point, or mitigating factors, which could lead to the sentence being reduced.  Contrary to popular belief, the fact you plead guilty early on does not provide an automatic reduction in sentence (although in practice it often does), so it is crucial you discuss with us whether pleading guilty is in your best interests.

The Court will take into account the purity of the drugs imported, the amount brought into the country, and whether they were designed to be taken by you alone or were imported with the intention of being sold.

Contact our criminal law defence solicitors today

If you have been charged with importing drugs into the UK, you must seek experienced legal advice immediately.  For urgent specialist advice, prompt representation or to speak to us confidentially about any criminal matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of our dedicated team of criminal defence lawyers in London, Birmingham, and Manchester by telephone:

  • City of London: 0207 624 7771 - our senior Solicitors and Partners can meet by appointment in the City.
  • Brent & Camden London Office: 020 7624 7771
  • Manchester Office: 0161 835 1638
  • Birmingham Office: 0121 614 3333

Or email:

Alternatively, you can fill out our quick online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

In Urgent Cases

For immediate representation and advice, you can contact our Emergency Number: 07836 577 556 and we will provide you with the urgent assistance you need.


  • Umar Zeb
      • Umar Zeb
      • Senior Partner - Head of Private Client Crime
      • 020 7624 7771
      • View profile
  • Lisa Nicol
      • Lisa Nicol
      • Senior Partner - Head of Crime & Serious Cases
      • 020 7644 0729
      • View profile
  • James O'Donnell
      • 020 7644 0742
      • View profile
  • Sanjay Cholera
      • 020 7651 0850
      • View profile
  • Pretesh Chauhan
      • 0121 614 3333
      • View profile
  • Peter Mulhearn
      • View profile
  • John Geraghty
      • View profile
  • Danny Parkash
      • View profile
  • Mimma Sabato
      • View profile
  • Richard Souper
      • View profile
  • Malik Aldeiri
      • 020 7644 0721
      • View profile
  • Sandra Cunningham
      • 0161 835 1638
      • View profile
  • Samuel Oduntan
      • View profile
  • Panama Begum
      • 0121 614 3333
      • View profile
  • Barry Linnane
      • 020 7651 0850
      • View profile
  • Stuart Lloyd
      • 020 7624 7771
      • View profile
  • Robert Wong
      • 020 7624 7771
      • View profile

Our cases

For new serious cases you can email a senior partner/lawyer directly by clicking here. When you call us you can request a call back or meeting the same day with a senior partner/lawyer or Barrister.

If you believe your case is likely to have serious consequences for you now, or in the future, and you have the means to pay for this service please read more about our bespoke private fee service.