Nearly 1.3 tons of heroin with a street value of more than £120 million has been found in Britain’s biggest ever seizure of the drug.
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers from the MV Gibraltar recovered the narcotics – after receiving a tip-off – from a container ship after it docked at Felixstowe in Suffolk on Friday (August 30).
The heroin was found among towels and bathrobes in the container, and it took six hours for it all to be removed – afterwards, the ship continued its trip before docking in Antwerp a day later.
Matt Horne, the NCA’s deputy director for investigations, said:
This is a record heroin seizure in the UK and one of the largest ever in Europe.
It will have denied organised crime tens of millions of pounds in profits, and is the result of a targeted, intelligence-led investigation, carried out by the NCA with international and UK partners.
When the vessel arrived, the container was removed from the ship and – under the surveillance of Dutch and Belgian law enforcement officers – taken to a warehouse in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
As they arrived, officers moved in and arrested four people who were unloading the container.
The massive haul comes after 398kg of heroin was seized from a ship, also at Felixstowe, on August 2.
Horne says that while the seizures are ultimately a positive thing, it demonstrates the scale of the drugs crisis they are dealing with.
The heroin trade also feeds addictions that put users’ lives at risk, while giving rise to crime such as theft which make people feel unsafe in their homes and communities.
NCA officers on the front line lead the fight against the serious and organised criminals who chase profits while dominating and intimidating communities.
In order to reduce the UK’s demand for illegal commodities and narcotics like heroin, there needs to be a ‘systematic response across multiple sectors, including health and social care, prisons and education,’ according to Horne.
Jenny Sharp, Border Force assistant director at Felixstowe, said the 1.3 ton haul speaks to the effective work the NCA and law enforcement officers do at home and abroad:
This is a huge seizure – there is no other word for it given the quantities involved – which has kept dangerous drugs off the streets of the UK and mainland Europe.
It speaks well of the effective work we do with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad and I’m extremely proud of all the officers involved.
In 2018, Scotland saw more drug-related deaths than any other European Union country.
The National Records of Scotland statistics show 1,187 died from taking drugs – tripling England and Wales’ death rate – with heroin and other opiates being responsible for 86 per cent of deaths.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.