UK Authorities Seize ‘Biggest ever’ Cocaine Shipment

REUTERS/Miguel Pereira/File Photo
Police gather drugs ahead of burning six tonnes of cocaine, hashish and other substances to mark the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse, in Lisbon, Portugal, June 26, 2023.

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – British authorities said on Friday they had seized 5.7 tons of cocaine from a port in southern England, in what is believed to be the biggest ever seizure of Class A drugs in the UK.

The haul, worth an estimated 450 million pounds ($570 million) based on UK street prices, was discovered on Feb. 8 at Southampton Port, hidden in a container within a shipment of bananas from South America.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it believes the shipment was headed for the Port of Hamburg in Germany and that it was in touch with international agencies across Europe to identify the criminal networks involved.

“This record-breaking seizure will represent a huge hit to the international organised crime cartels involved, denying them massive profits,” NCA Director Chris Farrimond said in a statement.

Criminal gangs are estimated to be making around 4 billion pounds a year in the UK alone from a cocaine market closely linked to serious violence throughout its supply chain, including firearms and knife crime, the NCA said.

The previous largest UK seizure was 3.7 tons of cocaine, also at Southampton, in 2022.

($1 = 0.7898 pounds)