Seizures of co­caine triple to record high

Daily Express - - News - By Michael Knowles

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.

Gangs

“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

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