Authorities have seized more than £4 million worth of cocaine after it was discovered on a cargo ship carrying fruit juice.
The ship, which had travelled from Santos in Brazil, was docked at Avonmouth docks in Bristol and due to continue to the Netherlands when the cocaine was found by police divers scouring the bottom of the vessel.
The discovery of the illegal substance came on Tuesday, November 9, following a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency, Border Force and Avon & Somerset Police.
Divers discovered the drugs inside what is believed to have been a specially adapted hide while searching the bottom of the ship amid murky waters. The haul weighed around 46 kilos.
Commenting on the operation, Dean Wallbank of the National Crime Agency said: ‘Disrupting the international networks involved in drug trafficking is a priority for the NCA, and I’m grateful for the assistance provided by partners in Border Force and Avon & Somerset Police on this operation, as well as those overseas.’
Wallbank said authorities do not believe the entire load was initially destined for the UK, though said it is ‘likely that at least some of it would have ended up back here in the hands of UK criminal gangs, being sold on UK streets.’
He added: ‘Making this seizure has prevented them from profiting further and re-investing in further criminality.’
Inspector Will Barlow of Avon & Somerset Police described the officers involved in the operation as having faced ‘extremely challenging conditions’, ‘in particular poor visibility.’
We are pleased that our experienced dive team were able to play a significant role in recovering a large quantity of class A drugs.
We are all acutely aware of the damage cocaine and other illegal substances can have on our communities and we are delighted to have been able to support the National Crime Agency and Border Force with their investigation and stop harmful drugs from making their way on to our streets.
Following the seizure of the cocaine, an international probe is underway into the source and intended destination for the drugs.
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