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Cocaine with street value of €59m found in shipment of tinned tuna

The concealed cocaine
The concealed cocaine

Cocaine with a street value of more than £50million has been seized after being discovered hidden in a shipment of tinned tuna.

Border Force officers found the class A drugs, which had been shipped from Ecuador via Belgium, in a container at DP World London Gateway, in Essex, on Monday.

The smugglers stashed eight holdalls with 500kg of cocaine, which Border Force said had a wholesale value of £16 million and an estimated street value of more than £50 million.

Mark Kennedy, Border Force assistant director at the port, said: "Cocaine is a destructive drug which ruins the lives of users and damages the wider community. This was a substantial find, the biggest we have made here in the port's short history, and will have significantly disrupted the activity of the criminal parties involved."

The case has been referred to the National Crime Agency (NCA), which is trying to establish the source of the drugs shipment.

Matthew Rivers, from the NCA's Border Policing Command, said: "The intended destination for this consignment was mainland Europe but it's likely a proportion would still have ended up back in the UK. We are now working closely with our law enforcement colleagues overseas as part of the ongoing investigation.

"Cocaine is a commodity that has direct association to highly aggressive crime. A consignment of this size would undoubtedly have filtered through organised crime groups also associated with firearms, knife crime, exploitation of the young and vulnerable and gang culture. Seizing it has removed the opportunity to make profit from those groups."