Huge cocaine haul worth up to £300MILLION is found hidden in 20 pallets of bananas at Southampton docks
- Border Force and National Crime Agency found the drugs at Southampton docks
- Packages of white powder had been placed in five of the 20 pallets of bananas
- The shipment had arrived from Colombia and had been marked for examination
- Home secretary Priti Patel said the haul was the largest UK seizure since 2015
More than £300 million worth of cocaine has been taken off the streets after it was seized from inside 20 pallets of bananas.
In a joint operation between Border Force and the National Crime Agency, officers uncovered 3.7 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride.
The drugs were found in five of the 20 pallets which arrived into Southampton Docks, in Hants, from Columbia last month.
The haul is thought to be the UK’s biggest seizure of cocaine since 2015.
The authorities found the five pallets each contained wrapped packages of white powder which authorities have said is cocaine hydrochloride – the substance used to make crack cocaine.
The drugs, which were seized on March 17, are thought to be worth around £302 million at current street prices.
More than £300 million worth of cocaine has been seized from inside 20 pallets of bananas
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘This is the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK since 2015.
‘It should serve as a warning to anyone trying to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we are out to get them.
‘A key focus of our Beating Crime Plan is disrupting the supply chain and relentless pursuit of the criminals peddling these narcotics, making the drugs market a low-reward high risk enterprise.
‘The police and Border Force have my 100 per cent backing to use all available powers to stop devastating drugs from coming into our neighbourhoods and destroying lives.’
The container had recently arrived from Colombia and was targeted for examination on March 17.
Tim Kingsberry Regional Director of Border Force South, added: ‘This is one of the largest seizures of cocaine in the UK for many years which, had it not been stopped, would have ended up in the hands of gangs involved in street violence and exploitation.
Pictured: The drugs were found inside a shipment which had arrived from Colombia last month
‘This seizure and others like it send a clear message to anyone considering attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we will find it.
‘The officers involved in this seizure can be proud of their outstanding efforts in preventing this drug consignment from reaching our communities and destroying lives.’
Peter Stevens, NCA regional head of investigations, said: ‘This was a monumental seizure of cocaine with a street value of around £300 million.
‘The organised crime group behind this importation has been denied massive profits which it would have ploughed back into more offending.
‘There’s no doubt some of this cocaine would have been cut up and sold across UK streets, feeding crime and misery in our communities.
‘The NCA will continue to work with partners at home, such as Border Force, and abroad to tackle the trafficking and supply of Class A drugs.’