Million ecstasy tablets seized in drugs raid

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The Independent Online

More than a million tablets of ecstasy worth an estimated £12m have been seized during a joint customs and police raid in what is believed to be among the biggest drug hauls of its kind. About 40 police and customs law enforcement officers, including marksmen, took part in the operation at a warehouse in a business park in the Cotswolds.

More than a million tablets of ecstasy worth an estimated £12m have been seized during a joint customs and police raid in what is believed to be among the biggest drug hauls of its kind. About 40 police and customs law enforcement officers, including marksmen, took part in the operation at a warehouse in a business park in the Cotswolds.

Police arrested four men during the raid at 10.30pm on Monday.

The suspected drug dealers are believed to have smuggled the ecstasy into Britain from Germany, possibly hidden inside a car, and were dividing up the tablets at the industrial unit in Rissington Business Park near Stow-on-the-Wold.

A spokesman from Customs and Excise said yesterday that drug traffickers were increasingly using rural locations as distribution centres because they believed they were less likely to come under surveillance. The arrested men are British nationals, but two live in Germany. The other two live in the south of England. The suspects, who were arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs with intent to supply, were being questioned yesterday at Stroud police station in Gloucestershire. Three of the men are aged in their 30s and the fourth is in his 40s.

The tablets seized weighed 225kg (500lb). Bob Gaiger, a customs spokesman, said: "We are convinced it is one of the biggest seizures of ecstasy tablets in this country and possibly the biggest ever. Twenty customs officers and 20 police officers took part in the operation with police armed support and a helicopter."

A Gloucestershire police spokeswoman said drug smugglers appeared to be following the example of tobacco smugglers in using remote farms.

Although the popularity of ecstasy has declined it is still in high demand on the club scene. A recent police survey found that the cheapest prices for ecstasy were £5.50 a pill in Brighton and £7 in Edinburgh and Liverpool, with the most expensive being £15 in Belfast, Brighton, Sheffield and London, and £20 in Manchester.