Cocaine worth £450M found in cargo of bananas in UK

The largest ever seizure of Class A drugs in the UK, with an estimated street value of £450 million ($530.3 million), has been uncovered in a shipment of bananas, SİA informs via BBC.

The 5.7-tonne haul of cocaine was found in a container from South America at Southampton Port on 8 February.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the drugs were heading to Hamburg in Germany and inquiries were ongoing to identify the criminals involved.

The previous record was 3.7 tonnes of cocaine, also at Southampton, in 2022.

Another 3.2 tonnes of the drug was discovered on board the tug boat MV Hamal in Scotland in 2015.

A spokesman for the NCA explained the MV Hamal haul was estimated at a value of £512 million ($648.8 million) because of a difference in cocaine prices in Scotland at that time.

Border Force officers in Southampton found the record-breaking haul in blocks mixed with bananas after being called to carry out a search of the cargo by the NCA.

Andy Mason, the NCA's drug threat lead, told BBC News: "This is a massive financial hit for a crime group and that will seriously disrupt them.

"We've seen high levels of seizures across Europe [in recent times] but we are in a cocaine market where production continues to increase in South America.

"In Colombia ...since 2020 the production of coca leaf has increased by over 40%, so it's a challenging environment."

The NCA said the domestic cocaine market is dominated by criminal gangs who are believed to be making about £4 billion ($5 billion) a year in the UK alone.

Chris Farrimond, NCA director, said: "While the destination for the consignment was continental Europe in this case, I have no doubt that a significant proportion would have ended up back here in the UK, being peddled by UK criminal gangs.

"Working closely with UK partners like Border Force, we are determined to do all we can to protect the UK public."

Mr Mason added recent work had been undertaken to "tighten security at ports" which had led to "several arrests of port workers who are engaged in assisting cocaine traffickers".

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