Seizures of cocaine triple to record high
NEARLY 10 tons of cocaine – a record haul – was seized in Britain last year.
Police and Border Force officers snatched 9,645kg of the drug from criminal gangs hoping to flood communities across Britain.
It was the largest amount since records began in 1973 and almost treble the haul seized the previous year.
The majority was seized on the UK’s borders as it arrived from South America.
National Crime Agency sources said law enforcement officers are increasingly targeting drug “kingpins” bringing vast amounts into the UK.
Lawrence Gibbons, NCA drugs threat lead, said: “Drug trafficking is a global threat and its corrosive effects can be felt in the UK, causing violence and exploitation at every stage.
“An absolute priority for the NCA is tackling the whole drug supply chain.”
Police officers and border officials made more than 150,000 seizures in England and Wales during 2018/19 – the first annual increase since 2011/12.
The cocaine market in London is worth £1billion a year. And Britain as a whole is one of the world’s biggest users of cocaine, with 2.2 per cent of the population taking the drug.
Only Albania (2.5 per cent) and United States (2.3 per cent) take more.
Home Office documents revealed: “The quantity of cocaine seized in 2018/19 by Border Force increased by 6,220kg compared with 2017/18 (from 2,660kg to 8,880kg), while the quantity of cocaine seized by police forces increased by 13 per cent (from 678kg to 765kg).”
Production of cocaine in Colombia is at a record high, accounting for around 70 per cent of the global trade. Dealers will typically fly the drugs out of the rainforests in South America to the Caribbean.
The cocaine is then packed onto yachts heading for Europe or hidden in embedded packages on shipping containers. Increasingly police are seeing gangs change their tactics. Last Friday, Spanish police arrested the captain of a “narco-submarine” which had been intercepted by authorities.
It was carrying 3,000kg of cocaine and police fear much of it would have ended up on the streets of Britain.
Chief Constable Andy Cooke, the National Police Chief Council lead for serious and organised crime, rejected claims that legalising drugs could lead to a reduction in organised crime.
He said: “We need to keep targeting those who are involved in the drugs trade, involved in human slavery, people who are trafficking people and smuggling counterfeit cigarettes.
“They don’t stop being criminals because we legalise part of their business. They’ll find something else to specialise in.” Meanwhile, seizures of crack cocaine increased 20 per cent and the amount of ecstasy confiscated doubled to 2.2 million doses.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said soaring demand for cocaine was behind recent violent drug wars which have seen stabbings and street violence soar.
She said: “Drugs markets are a big part of the problem. There is big demand, big money to be made.”
In hot water...the seized submarine