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£300 million worth of cocaine found in banana shipment

Thought to be the UK's biggest cocaine bust since 2015

  • Words: Aneesa Ahmed | Image: Leon McGowran
  • 6 April 2022
£300 million worth of cocaine found in banana shipment

Nearly four tonnes of cocaine have been found in a banana shipment in Southampton, and it is said to be the UK's biggest cocaine bust since 2015.

On March 17, the UK Border Force confiscated more than 3.7 tonnes of cocaine hydrochloride disguised in boxes of bananas in a container containing 20 pallets of the fruit at Southampton Docks.

Before being inspected by the force and the National Crime Agency (NCA), the crate had just arrived from Columbia.

Read this next: Bust to boom: How drugs won the war on drugs

Within five of the pallets, wrapped sachets of white powder were discovered, which tested positive for cocaine hydrochloride, which is used to produce crack cocaine.

Priti Patel described the haul, worth around £302m, as "the largest seizure of cocaine in the UK since 2015."

The confiscation was dubbed "monumental" by the NCA, who claimed it deprived organised criminal organisations of significant earnings.

Read this next: Insta-gram: How British cocaine dealers got faster and better

Metro reports that 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.

Tim Kingsberry, the regional director of Border Force South, added: "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.

Read this next: Someone created a cocaine calendar in the 1970s and it's pretty outrageous

Despite some optimism, drug policy organisations are skeptical about the genuine impact of massive seizures. Sky News reports Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst at Transform Drugs Policy, claiming the home secretary's statements are "clearly not working to deter criminals," despite their powerful sounding nature.

He said: "Cocaine deaths are up 40-fold since the 1990s. Every year it is becoming cheaper, purer and more available. And more and more young people are being groomed and exploited in county lines."

According to the NCA's current strategic threat assessment, the UK cocaine market is worth more than £25.7 million per day in England, Scotland, and Wales.

Read this next: British cocaine gangs are collaborating with overseas rivals to increase supply

Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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