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UK police seize record cocaine shipment bound for Hamburg

February 23, 2024

A record shipment of cocaine was hidden among bananas in a Germany-bound container in the port of Southampton, British police said.

A handout picture released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on February 22, 2024 shows packages of cocaine hidden between bananas seized at the harbour of Southampton
Packages of cocaine were hidden between bananas from South AmericaImage: UK NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY/AFP

British authorities said they seized 5.7 tons of cocaine at a port in southern England, believed to be the largest seizure of Class A drugs ever in the United Kingdom.

The street value of the cocaine seized is believed to be "in excess of 450 million pounds" ($570 million or €526 million), the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) said in a press release.

The cocaine was seized on February 8 at the port of Southampton on the south coast of England. The NCA said officers believed the drugs were bound for the German city of Hamburg "for onward delivery."

The UK's previous largest cocaine seizure saw 3.7 tons of the drug also found in the port of Southampton in 2022.

Drug dealing and smuggling in Berlin

A huge hit on organized crime

The NCA said it would work with European partners to identify criminal networks involved in the illegal operation.

"This record-breaking seizure will represent a huge hit to the international organized crime cartels involved, denying them massive profits," said NCA Director Chris Farrimond.

"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," he added.

The NCA estimates that the illicit cocaine market in the UK generates around £4 billion a year for criminal gangs.

dh/sms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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