Cocaine worth up to £184m found in banana shipment from Colombia

‘Step away from the bananas’: £184m worth of cocaine seized in banana shipment

Seizure believed to be one of the largest ever drug busts in UK, says National Crime Agency

Kate Ng
Saturday 20 February 2021 01:24

Police have seized 2.3 tonnes of cocaine worth up to £184 million in London after it was smuggled into the UK in a shipment of bananas from Colombia.

The seizure of the Class A drug is believed to be one of the largest ever in the UK, said the National Crime Agency (NCA), who conducted a joint investigation with the Met Police.

Following an armed raid at an industrial estate in Tottenham, north London, on Thursday, 10 men aged between 21 and 56 were arrested.

Dramatic footage from the raid showed firearms officers geared up with helmets and gas masks smashing down a door before raiding the building, which contained 41 pallets stacked with boxes of bananas.

The cocaine - which the NCA estimated would potentially have been worth £184 million if sold on UK streets - had already been removed by Border Force officers at Portsmouth International Port on Sunday.

The container had arrived on a cargo ship from Colombia the day before, “masquerading as a legitimate consignment of bananas”, said the NCA.

John Coles, head of specialist operations at the NCA, said: “The NCA is focused on disrupting the organised crime groups posing the most significant risk to the UK, which includes those involved in class A drug supply.

“Illegal drugs are a corrosive threat and those who deal in cocaine are often violent and exploitative. Cocaine supply is directly linked to the use of firearms, knife crime and the exploitation of young and vulnerable people,” he said.

“We work closely with domestic and international partners to target those at the top of the chain and ensure that transnational drug networks are met with a global response.

“Border Force is a key partner and were vital in preventing these drugs from being successfully trafficked into the country.”

Detective superintendent Simon Moring from the Met Police added that the “complex and resource intensive” operations are “vital to disrupt organised criminal networks”.

He said: “We know there is an inextricable link between drugs and violence – that is why tackling the importation and supply of drugs is a crucial part of our work to reduce violent crime in London.”