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Cocaine haul worth £450m found hidden in banana shipment in largest-ever class A drugs bust

A shipment of £450m worth of cocaine has been seized at Southampton Port in a “huge hit” to crime cartels.

It’s the largest-ever seizure of a haul of class A drugs in the UK, with National Crime Agency (NCA) and Border Force officers finding 5.7 tonnes in a container carrying bananas from South America on 8 February.

This far eclipses the previous record of 3.7 tonnes discovered at the same port in 2022 and 3.2 tonnes found on board the tugboat MV Hamal in Scotland in 2015.

The 2015 haul was estimated at a value of £512m because of a difference in cocaine prices experienced in Scotland at that time.

“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.

“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.”

Officers are now working to identify the criminal networks involved in the shipment to the Hampshire port, which was ultimately destined for Hamburg in Germany.

Pic: NCA
Image: Pic: NCA

The domestic cocaine market is dominated by criminal gangs which the NCA believe to be making around £4bn a year in the UK alone.

“The NCA is targeting international networks upstream and overseas, disrupting and dismantling them at every step,” Mr Farrimond added.

“International law enforcement cooperation is essential to this mission.”

Pic: NCA
Image: Pic: NCA
Pic: NCA
Image: Pic: NCA

A spokesman for the NCA said cocaine trafficking is “closely linked” to serious violence throughout the supply chain, including firearms and knife crime in the UK.

The cocaine trade has seen an “exponential rise” in associated violence in the past few years, he added.

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The minister for legal migration and the border, Tom Pursglove, said the government takes a zero-tolerance approach to the supply of illegal drugs.

“This seizure sends a clear message to criminals that they will be caught,” he added.

“Our Border Force officers continue to work relentlessly to protect our borders and ensure the safety and security of the public.”

Sky News Source