London: Two tonnes of cocaine seized by Metropolitan Police
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The Sheerness docks in Kent witnessed the arrest of six people, all accused of taking part in a drug trafficking cover-up using a banana shipment. According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), 1.2 tonnes of cocaine have been seized, valued at around £90 million.
On Monday, the operation required the intervention of 100 officers, including armed police, who arrested the six presumed traffickers.
A seventh person, a man, was arrested at his home in Hertfordshire.
All seven were charged with conspiring to import Class A drugs and are to appear at Medway Magistrates’ Court.
The first elements suggest that a drug gang enrolled a 27-year-old security guard working at the port to secure the delivery of a shipment of bananas from Costa Rica via Panama.
The traffickers reportedly hid the cocaine inside the shipment of fruits.
Authorities believe the boat has now sailed elsewhere.
An NCA spokesperson said: “Insider threat or corrupt enablers are a priority for the NCA.”
The NCA warned that furloughed port and airport staff could be vulnerable to criminals trying to exploit the coronavirus pandemic in July.
The spokesperson added: “Selling knowledge of systems or allowing access to restricted areas allows organised crime groups to smuggle illicit commodities such as firearms or drugs, or the movement of vulnerable people and children through organised immigration crime.”
Jacque Beer, the regional head of investigation of the NCA, said: “Our investigation has focused on what we believe to be a dangerous group intent on importing large amounts of drugs to the UK, using insider contacts within the port.
“We know that criminal gangs target insiders within ports and airports for their knowledge and access.
“While it is rare, when it happens it represents a disproportionately large threat which is why it is such a focus for the NCA.
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“We believe this activity has thwarted those intentions and led to the dismantling of the network involved.”
He added: “This was a major operation involving a large number of law enforcement officers from the NCA, our Kent Police colleagues and Border Force who I’d like to thank for their assistance as well as the port operator.
“Working together, we are determined to do all we can to protect the security and integrity of the UK border.”
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