Drugs worth pounds 2bn seized by Customs

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ILLEGAL DRUGS worth nearly pounds 2bn were prevented from entering the UK by Customs and Excise in 1993-94, more than double the target figure. The figures include drugs seized overseas which Customs believe were destined for the UK, writes Danny Penman.

Cocaine seizures increased by 67 per cent to 2,588 kilograms, with Colombia remaining the biggest single source. Six hundred kilograms of heroin were seized, mainly from the 'golden crescent ' countries (Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran) and transported by lorry from Turkey. Cannabis seizures also increased and amounted to over 60 tonnes. More than a tonne of psychoactive chemicals was also intercepted.

Valerie Strachan, chairman of Customs and Excise, said: 'We broke up 69 major international drug smuggling organisations and the courts made confiscation orders for property and assets worth over pounds 10m.' More than 2,500 people were arrested by Customs officers for drug-related offences with 1,382 convictions.

Despite the increase in drugs seizures, the department believes it is having a significant impact in the war against smugglers. A spokesman said: 'Britain is now a more difficult country to get drugs into.

'One way we have of telling is the street prices of drugs here and in rest of Europe and the US. They are much greater here.'