More than 3.7 tonnes of cocaine worth £302m found in bananas - biggest UK seizure in 7 years

MORE than 3.7 tonnes of cocaine worth £302million on the streets was found hidden in a container load of bananas (above) at Southampton docks.

It was the biggest seizure of the class A drug in the UK in the last seven years.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Border Force working alongside the National Crime Agency (NCA) at Southampton Docks have seized more than 3.7 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride concealed within a container of 20 pallets of bananas.

"On inspection, Border Force and NCA officers discovered five pallets, each containing wrapped packages of white powder which tested positive for the presence of cocaine hydrochloride. The white powdery substance is used to make crack cocaine."

The container had recently arrived from Colombia and was targeted for examination on March 17.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:  “This is the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK since 2015. It should serve as a warning to anyone trying to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we are out to get them.

"A key focus of our Beating Crime Plan is disrupting the supply chain and relentless pursuit of the criminals peddling these narcotics, making the drugs market a low-reward high risk enterprise.

“The police and Border Force have my 100 per cent backing to use all available powers to stop devastating drugs from coming into our neighbourhoods and destroying lives.”

Tim Kingsberry Regional Director of Border Force South, said: “This is a one of the largest seizures of cocaine in the UK for many years which, had it not been stopped, would have ended up in the hands of gangs involved in street violence and exploitation. This seizure and others like it send a clear message to anyone considering attempting to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we will find it.

“The officers involved in this seizure can be proud of their outstanding efforts in preventing this drug consignment from reaching our communities and destroying lives.”

No details of any arrests in connection with the seizure have been released.

Peter Stevens, NCA regional head of investigations, said: “This was a monumental seizure of cocaine with a street value of around £300 million.

“The organised crime group behind this importation has been denied massive profits which it would have ploughed back into more offending.

“There’s no doubt some of this cocaine would have been cut up and sold across UK streets, feeding crime and misery in our communities.

“The NCA will continue to work with partners at home, such as Border Force, and abroad to tackle the trafficking and supply of Class A drugs.”

The Home Office spokesman added: "Securing the border to crack down on supply chains and criminal gangs profiting from the trade in illegal drugs is a key part of the government’s 10-year Drug Strategy to tackle the harms caused by drug misuse.  It will drive down drug supply and demand, which includes supporting people through treatment and recovery and an even tougher response to criminal supply chains and the demand that fuels these illegal markets."