Cocaine worth more than £15 million has been seized by Border Force officers at London Gateway after it was found hidden within the floor of a container.
The detection was made on Monday (13 July) during an intelligence led search of a 40ft, temperature controlled container that had been shipped from Costa Rica and was carrying a load of bananas. The container was in transit to Germany.
An initial X-Ray scan of the container identified an anomaly within the floor. When officers conducted a physical examination they found that the floor cavity, which would normally be packed with insulation had instead been filled with blocks of cocaine. A total of 380kg of the Class A drug, with an estimated street value of £15.2 million was ultimately recovered in an operation that took 19 hours to complete.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said:
Illegal drugs have a significant impact on our society, being the root cause behind countless burglaries, thefts and robberies. They are also used as a commodity by organised criminals linked to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable.
This is just one example of the crucial work that Border Force officers do every day to help keep the UK safe. Detections of dangerous Class A drugs such as this are testament to their dedication and expertise.
Border Force Assistant Director Pete Roffey said:
This was a sophisticated concealment and one that is rarely seen in the UK. The smugglers had cut the inner floor, raised it, removed and scraped out the insulation, packed in the drugs and then welded the inner floor back in place. They had left relatively little evidence that the container had been tampered with.
Following the Border Force detection, the seizure was referred to the National Crime Agency.
Border Force officers are the front line in protecting the country and play a key role in detecting illegal immigration, disrupting serious and organised crime and helping to prevent the threat of terrorism. Border Force also protects the UK’s revenue, contributing to the nation’s prosperity and growth.
They use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners – as well as visual searches – to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms and tobacco which would otherwise end up causing harm to local people, businesses and communities.
Anyone with information about activity they suspect may be linked to smuggling should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or go to www.gov.uk/report-smuggling.