£40m of heroin hidden under towels and bathrobes seized at UK port

Drugs haul weighing nearly 400kg is one of the largest ever, says National Crime Agency

Heroin worth 40m found hidden under towels and bathrobes in container at Felixstowe docks

Heroin worth up to £40m was found hidden under towels and bathrobes in a shipping container, in one of the largest ever seizures of the drug in the UK.

The shipment, weighing a total of 398kg, was intercepted by officers from the Border Force and National Crime Agency (NCA) at Felixstowe in Suffolk on Friday.

Police believe some of the heroin would have ended up being sold on the streets of the UK, fuelling violent crime and the “county lines” exploitation of young children.

The container is thought to have begun its journey in Oman in the Middle East.

Acting on NCA intelligence, British, Dutch and Belgian officers tracked the shipment as it stopped in various locations en route to Antwerp in Belgium.

After it docked in the port of Felixstowe on 1 August, the container was taken off the ship and searched.

Officers then removed the heroin before returning the container to the vessel to continue its voyage.

Police then tracked the container as it was collected in Antwerp and transported by lorry to Rotterdam.

Dutch officers moved in as the suspects attempted to unload their cargo on 5 August and made two arrests.

At the same time the NCA detained a man from Bromsgrove in Worcestershire for questioning about the shipment.

“The seizure of such a large quantity of heroin is the result of a targeted, intelligence-led investigation, carried out by the NCA with international and UK partners,” said NCA regional operations manager Colin Williams.

“It is almost certain that some of these drugs would have been sold in the UK, fuelling violence and exploitation including what we see in county lines offending nationwide.

“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 communities.”

The heroin would be worth £9m to criminals selling the whole shipment at wholesale value and at least £40m at street level in the UK and Europe, according to the NCA.

Mark Kennedy, Border Force Deputy Director, said: “Border Force officers operate on the front line, working every day to keep dangerous Class A drugs like this off the UK’s streets.

“Substantial seizures like this help to keep communities safe and hit the organised crime groups involved in the international drugs trade hard.”

Last week 60 guns were found hidden inside a car travelling from Calais to Dover.

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