UK Seizes Cocaine at London Gateway in Sophisticated Smuggling Effort
The UK Border Force working at the London Gateway port seized cocaine in what they termed a usual and highly sophisticated smuggling effort. The illegal narcotics were discovered in a shipping container loaded with bananas that had departed Costa Rica and was in transit to Germany.
According to the authorities, the detection began with an intelligence-led search of a 40 foot, temperature-controlled container. An initial X-ray scan of the container identified an anomaly within the floor of the container. Based on that, the officers decided to conduct a physical examination of the container.
During the examination, they found that the floor cavity, which would normally be packed with insulation, had instead been filled with blocks of cocaine. A total of 380 kg of the Class A drug, with an estimated street value of approximately $20 million, was recovered in an operation that took 19 hours to complete.
“This was a sophisticated concealment and one that is rarely seen in the UK,” said Pete Roffey, Border Force Assistant Director. “The smugglers had cut the inner floor, raised it, removed and scraped out the insulation, packed in the drugs and then welded the inner floor back in place. They had left relatively little evidence that the container had been tampered with.”
Following the Border Force detection, the seizure was referred to the National Crime Agency.
Border Force officers typically use an array of search techniques including sniffer dogs, carbon dioxide detectors, heartbeat monitors and scanners, as well as visual searches, to find well-hidden stowaways, illegal drugs, firearms, and tobacco.