COCAINE with a street value of more than £20 million has been smuggled into the UK from the Netherlands concealed in frozen meat (pictured above).
The sophisticated smuggling attempt, which involved wrapping the packages in a meat pulp, before freezing it, was rumbled by Border Force officers as it arrived in a Dutch-registered refrigerated HGV into Harwich, Essex, from Hook of Holland yesterday.
The lorry driver, 48-year-old Robert Tromp from Hillegom in the Netherlands, was questioned by National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators and later charged with attempting to import class A drugs.
NCA investigators found that packages of cocaine were wrapped in blocks of frozen meat, and then loaded onto pallets in the back of the truck.
More than 200 kilos was seized.
Tromp appeared before Colchester magistrates today where he was remanded in custody until his next appearance at Chelmsford Crown Court in December.
HIDDEN: The drugs were concealed in meat packed into pallets in the lorry (NCA)
National Crime Agency branch commander Jacque Beer said: “While forensic checks are still being carried out on this seizure, it is likely that the total haul would have had a street value in excess of £20 million once cut and sold at a street purity level.
“Our investigation into those responsible is continuing, but we can say that this will have put a big dent in the profits of the criminal network likely to be behind it and caused them substantial disruption.
“The illicit drug trade is a key driver behind the gang violence and exploitation we see on UK streets, which is why we, along with partners like Border Force, are determined to do all we can to stop drugs at source and protect the public. This was an excellent detection by our Border Force colleagues.”
In July 300kg of cocaine, worth around £30 million, was seized at Harwich after it was found hidden in a similar way in blocks of frozen meat.
It also came in from the Netherlands.
In January 2015 Border Force officers found 90kg of class A drug MDMA (ecstasy) hidden inside frozen out of date chickens at Killinghome Port in Lincolnshire. It had also come from the Netherlands.