National Crime Agency
NCA investigation results in biggest ever UK heroin haul
An international investigation has resulted in the largest ever seizure of heroin in the UK, denying vast sums of money to organised crime groups.
Nearly 1.3 tonnes of the class A drug were recovered from a container ship, the MV Gibraltar, after it docked at the port of Felixstowe on 30 August.
National Crime Agency intelligence had ascertained that the heroin would be on the vessel when it docked in the UK en route to Antwerp.
The record haul would be worth around £27 million to organised criminals at wholesale, and in excess of £120 million at street level, where it is typically supplied via county lines dealing.
The ship arrived on 30th August, and was searched by officers from Border Force and the NCA. They found a total of 1,297kg of the substance concealed among a cover load of towels and bathrobes.
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 1 September.
Under surveillance by Dutch and Belgian law enforcement agencies, the container was driven by lorry to a warehouse in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Upon arrival, officers moved in and arrested four people who were in the process of unloading the consignment.
The 1.3 tonne haul follows the seizure of 398 kilograms of heroin from a vessel at Felixstowe port on 2 August.
NCA Deputy Director, Investigations, Matt Horne, said:
“This is a record heroin seizure in the UK and one of the largest ever in Europe. It will have denied organised crime tens of millions of pounds in profits, and is the result of a targeted, intelligence-led investigation, carried out by the NCA with international and UK partners.
“The size of this and other recent shipments demonstrate the scale of the threat we face. We can be certain that some of these drugs would eventually have been sold in the UK, fuelling high levels of 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 homes and communities.
“NCA officers on the front line lead the fight against the serious and organised criminals who chase profits while dominating and intimidating communities. However, reducing UK demand for illegal commodities such as heroin requires a systematic response across multiple sectors, including health and social care, prisons and education.”
Jenny Sharp, Border Force Assistant Director at Felixstowe, said:
“This is a huge seizure – there is no other word for it given the quantities involved – which has kept dangerous drugs off the streets of the UK and mainland Europe. It speaks well of the effective work we do with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad and I’m extremely proud of all the officers involved.
“The smugglers had hidden the drugs within a coverload of towels, stitching the 1kg blocks of heroin inside some of the towels. In total it took my officers nearly six hours – working in the early hours of Saturday morning - to remove the drugs."
Latest News from
National Crime Agency
Ten more arrests in investigation into Rotherham abuse allegations14/08/2020 16:05:00
Ten more men have been arrested as part of an investigation into the abuse of four girls in Rotherham, alleged to have taken place around 20 years ago.
Two face prosecution following NCA investigation into NAMA property deal06/08/2020 16:15:00
Two men are to be prosecuted over alleged fraud offences as part of the NCA investigation into the sale of the National Asset Management Agency’s Northern Ireland property loan book.
Driver jailed for lorry cocaine stash05/08/2020 11:15:00
A man who tried to smuggle cocaine worth almost a million pounds into the UK has been jailed for six years and nine months.
Three charged in international drug investigation linked to Encrochat03/08/2020 11:10:00
Three men have been charged in the UK and Netherlands, and over 50 kilos of class A drugs have been seized following a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency and Dutch law enforcement.
Driver arrested as part of Scottish drug supply investigation03/08/2020 09:05:00
A lorry driver from Scotland has been arrested following the seizure of around 150 kilos of cannabis at the UK-France border
Five arrested by NCA officers over Rotherham abuse allegations31/07/2020 14:15:00
Five men have been arrested in connection with allegations of abuse relating to four girls in Rotherham.
Teaching assistant bought online child abuse with Amazon vouchers30/07/2020 15:43:00
A teaching assistant bought an online catalogue of child sexual abuse using £365 of Amazon vouchers.
Two jailed for West London cocaine handover30/07/2020 11:15:00
Two men have been jailed after being caught in a £700,000 drugs handover while under investigation by the joint NCA and Metropolitan Police Service Organised Crime Partnership (OCP).
Operation Venetic: Liverpool man charged in connection with acid attack and shots fired in Merseyside27/07/2020 16:15:00
A man from Liverpool, arrested as part of National Crime Agency-led Operation Venetic, has been charged with a possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and three counts of conspiring to cause grievous bodily harm.