U.K. Makes Biggest Ever Heroin Seizure

Credit: National Crime Agency
Credit: National Crime Agency

Published Sep 4, 2019 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

An international investigation has resulted in the largest ever seizure of heroin in the U.K.

Nearly 1.3 tons of the drug were recovered from Maersk's Gibraltar container ship after she docked at the port of Felixstowe on August 30. U.K. National Crime Agency intelligence had ascertained that the heroin would be on the vessel when it docked en route to Antwerp.

The record haul, involving one kilogram blocks hidden among towels and bathrobes, would be worth around £27 million ($33 million) to organized criminals at wholesale, and in excess of £120 million ($147 million) at street level.

After officers removed the drugs, they returned the container to the vessel, which continued on to Antwerp and docked in the Belgian port city on September 1. Under surveillance by Dutch and Belgian law enforcement agencies, the container was driven by lorry to a warehouse in Rotterdam, where four people were subsequently arrested.

The 1.3 tonne haul follows the seizure of 398 kilograms of heroin from a vessel at Felixstowe port on August 2. In this case, NCA intelligence had identified a container vessel suspected of carrying a large drug shipment en route to Antwerp. As in the subsequent case, the heroin was concealed within a cover load of towels and bathrobes. The heroin was removed and the container returned to the vessel, which carried on to the port of Antwerp. Two people were subsequently arrested.