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Police hunt 'air con smuggling' suspect

Detectives have released pictures of a suspect they want to trace in connection with a £1.5 milllion smuggling operation which used air conditioning units to try to sneak huge quantities of heroin into the UK.

Detectives in Leicestershire have released images of 51-year-old Shashi Dhar Sahnan in an effort to track him down. Distinguishing features include the fact Mr Sahnan wears a hearing aid in his right ear.

The appeal follows a seizure by Customs officers during a joint operation with Leicestershire police in July 2007. Investigators found the drugs hidden in the struts of pallets used to transport the air conditioning units.

This led to the arrest of 15 men and three women from Leicester, Birmingham and London who have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Detective Inspector David Sandall, who is leading the investigation, said: 'We urgently need to trace Sahnan. We know he has family in the Birmingham area and has associates in London, Belfast and Northamptonshire. However, he could be anywhere in Britain, living on your street, shopping in your local grocery store.

'If you know where he is, please do not approach him and call us immediately. We can assure you any information will be treated with the utmost confidence and if people are fearful of giving their names, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously.'

Steve Roper, Detection Manager for the newly formed UK Border Agency, said: 'This was a highly organised and sophisticated smuggling plot to bring a large quantity of Class A drugs into the UK.

'The skills of our officers allowed us to detect and seize the drugs despite the inventive methods used to conceal them. We will continue to take strenuous and robust action to stem the flow of these dangerous drugs reaching our streets and work closely with partner law enforcement agencies to bring these criminals to justice. '

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Operation Oscillate team on Leicester (0116) 222 2222. Alternatively, people can contact Crimestoppers which is free and anonymous on 0800 555 111.