Cocaine worth £40m seized at Portsmouth port

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Chief Inspector Sharon Woolrich

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COCAINE with an estimated street value of more than £40m hidden in a shipment of bananas has been seized at Portsmouth International Port.

About 300kg (661lbs) of the class A drug was discovered following a search of the cargo vessel Star Stratos at Portsmouth port last night.

The shipment came from Colombia.

No arrests have been made but the National Crime Agency, which this afternoon released pictures of some of the drugs discovered on the ship, said it is thought to be the work of organised crime groups.

The cocaine was seized following a joint operation by the NCA, Border Force and Irish Garda.

Deputy director Tom Dowdall, from the National Crime Agency’s Border Policing Command, said: ‘Working with our law enforcement partners in the UK and Ireland we have successfully prevented a huge quantity of what is likely to be very high purity cocaine reaching our streets.

‘Our investigations into the organised crime groups likely to be responsible for this shipment continues.

‘This seizure once again demonstrates the international reach of the NCA and the impact we are having on the criminal networks involved in drug trafficking.’

Border Force Regional Director Carole Upshall said: ‘Border Force officers are on the front line of the fight to stop illegal drugs like cocaine making it on to the UK’s streets and causing harm to our communities.

‘Working with the NCA we are determined to do all we can to tackle traffickers and the criminal groups behind smuggling.’

Investigations are continuing both in the UK and Ireland in conjunction with An Garda Síochána.

This is the second joint operation between the NCA and An Garda Síochána which has resulted in a huge cocaine seizure in less than three months.

In September about a tonne of cocaine was seized by the Irish Naval Service from the yacht Makayabella around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland.