Border Force smashes UK cocaine smuggling route


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The Independent Online

A multimillion-pound cocaine smuggling route between South America and the UK has been smashed, the Border Force has said.

Officers believe they have closed down an important supply route through Immingham, North East Lincolnshire, after a series of large finds of the drug worth around £6.5 million in total.

The cocaine was all found hidden in loads of coal on bulk vessels that had travelled from Puerto Prodeco, in Colombia.

Seizures have been made on three different vessels in the last three months.

A spokesman said 20kg (45lbs) was found on the ER Borneo on June 2, 45kg (99lbs) on the CSK Glory on August 13, and 8kg (17.6lbs) on the MV Frontier Island on August 27.

He said that on each occasion the ships were raided by specially trained officers from the Border Force Deep Rummage Team, who found the drugs.

Sam Bullimore, from Border Force, said: "This was a significant smuggling route and these seizures will put a major dent in the profits of the criminal gang behind this specific plot.

"This success sends a clear message about the strength of the UK Border. Our expert Border Force officers use the latest technology and are supported by specialist Deep Rummage teams to make life as tough as possible for those involved in this evil activity.

"Cocaine destroys lives. Smuggling drugs is a vile trade that profits from the misery of others. We will continue to work closely with partner law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and abroad, to clamp down on the criminals involved."

No arrests have been made in connection with the seizures at this stage, but investigations are continuing, the Border Force said.

It said all the drugs will now be destroyed.

The Border Force said it has four National Deep Rummage Teams (NDRTs) which are based at Liverpool, Immingham, Felixstowe and Southampton, but operate across the UK.

The central base is in Liverpool where the teams operate their training vessel, the Altea.

NDRT Officers are able to board vessels as they tie up, and they can impose controls and perform detailed searches.