UK Officials Make $570M Cocaine Bust

UK authorities announced on February 23 the seizure of 5.7 tons of cocaine found at a port in southern England, Reuters reported.

The haul, believed to be the largest seizure of Class A drugs in UK history, was estimated to be worth £450 million ($570 million US).

According to the UK National Crime Agency (NCA), the drugs were discovered at Southampton Port on February 8 hidden within a shipping container loaded with bananas from South America.

The shipment was bound for the Port of Hamburg in Germany, according to the NCA.

The 5.7 tons of cocaine seized far surpassed the previous record of 3.7 tons of cocaine that was seized by the UK Border Force in March 2022. Like the cocaine seized last month, the 3.7 tons of cocaine were discovered at Southampton Docks hidden in boxes of bananas within a shipping container that arrived from Columbia.

NCA Director Chris Farrimond described the record-breaking seizure as a “huge hit” to the profits of international organized drug cartels.

It is estimated that criminal cartels earn about £4 million every year from the cocaine market in Great Britain alone. According to a spokesman from the NCA, the cocaine market is closely linked to violent crime throughout the UK, including knife and gun crimes.

Officers with the NCA are currently working with international partners to identify the criminal networks involved in the latest shipment of cocaine.

Director Farrimond said the NCA was targeting the international criminal networks to disrupt and dismantle them, adding that cooperation of international law enforcement was “essential to this mission.”

Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and the border, said the British government has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to the supply of illicit drugs.

Pursglove warned that the latest seizure was a “clear message” to criminal cartels that they would be apprehended.