MORE than a tonne of cocaine worth about £100million was found hidden in a shipment of banana pulp from Colombia, the Home Office says.
Border Force officers discovered the concealed drugs, which were destined for the streets of Europe, during a routine inspection at the London Gateway depot in Thurrock, last month.
A total of 1,060 kilograms of cocaine were found hidden in a shipping container docked at the port on the Thames Estuary.
It is thought that the drugs were put in the cargo in Colombia – the world’s leading supplier of cocaine – and were due to arrive in Antwerp, Belgium.
The discovery on November 12 marks the second-largest shipment of cocaine to be discovered at the Essex port in the space of two months.
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.”
In September, Border Force National Deep Rummage Team officers discovered 1,155 kilograms of cocaine in a shipment of paper also bound for Antwerp.
he National Crime Agency (NCA) is investigating the discoveries to identify those involved, though the two shipments are not believed to be linked.
NCA branch commander Jacque Beer said: “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.”