Border Force officers at a London port have seized more than a tonne of cocaine found hidden amongst a shipment of banana pulp.
The cocaine – worth an estimated £100 million – was detected at London Gateway on November 12 having been concealed within a shipping container.
The shipment was being transported on a commercial vessel and was found as part of routine inspections while the vessel docked at the port.
The cocaine, which weighed a total of 1,060 kilos, was suspected to have been placed in the cargo in Colombia and was bound for Antwerp (via Rotterdam).
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Using an array of search techniques and visual checks, Border Force officers were able to identify anomalies within the container cargo, the Home Office said.
It is the second largest seizure in the space of two months.
On September 12, officers from the Border Force National Deep Rummage Team found 1,155 kilos of cocaine in a shipping container loaded with paper which was bound for Antwerp. This was suspected to have been placed in cargo in Brazil.
The National Crime Agency is now liaising with international partners with the aim of identifying those involved in the shipments. They are not believed to be linked.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Drugs fuel criminality and destroy lives. Class A drugs such as cocaine inflict unimaginable damage on to our citizens and communities, shattering lives and stoking obscene levels of violence, disorder and crime.
“This significant seizure of drugs sends a stark message to criminals in the UK and abroad seeking to smuggle drugs into or through the UK: you will not succeed and we will use every inch of our law enforcement powers to track down and stop drugs from coming into the UK.”
NCA branch commander Jacque Beer added: “These were substantial seizures and will represent a significant hit to the organised crime groups involved, meaning less profit for them to reinvest.
“While the UK wasn’t the end destination for either shipment, it is likely that at least a proportion would have ended up being sold on our streets.
“The NCA is working with law enforcement partners in the UK, in Europe and worldwide to target the criminal networks behind drug trafficking and disrupt their activities. Ultimately this work protects the UK public.”
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