National Crime Agency officers have worked with Border Force to seize more than half a tonne of cocaine at London Gateway port.
The seizure was made from a consignment of bananas that had been shipped by boat to the UK from Colombia.
NCA investigators had identified that the consignment was destined for the Netherlands, but it was intercepted on Tuesday 26 July.
Officers estimate the haul would have had a UK street level value of more than £40 million once cut and sold.
NCA Branch Operations Manager Adam Berry said:
“Taking out a consignment of this size will have been a huge blow to the criminal network involved in this shipment, preventing them from making millions of pounds that would have been invested in further criminality.
“Class A drugs are pedalled by gangs involved in violence and exploitation in our communities.
“The NCA works hard with partners to stop drugs getting that far, and making seizures like this demonstrate how we can break that link between international drug cartels and street-level dealers.”
Between January and June, London Gateway saw throughput of 1,013,000 TEU, a 10% increase on the previous best half-yearly performance set in the second half of last year. This performance contributed to a record volume of cargo for DP World’s ports in the UK, with a combined total of 1,937,000 TEU when factoring in throughput at Southampton, Britain’s second largest container terminal.
DP World – which operates ports, terminals and logistics businesses on six continents – announced last year a further £300m investment in a new fourth berth at London Gateway, which will lift capacity by a third when it opens in 2024. Globally, the company reported a strong volume performance for the first six months of the year, with throughput growing by 2.7%.
Group Chairman and Chief Executive of DP World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, said: “Over the last 10 years, £2billion has been invested in the UK. London Gateway is one of the UK’s largest privately funded investment projects of the last 30 years and is set to grow further as part of Thames Freeport. Over the next 10 years around £1billion of further investment has been earmarked for the UK, making it our largest investment outside the Middle East.”
Ernst Schulze, UK Chief Executive of DP World, said: “This record performance illustrates our capacity to expand customer choice by introducing new sailings while continually improving our capability to deliver first class services for all existing customers. We expect our UK business to continue to grow, fuelled by our rapidly expanding port-centric logistics park at London Gateway, one of the biggest facilities of its kind in Europe.”
“Operating two ports means we offer unrivalled flexibility and choice to customers. Volumes can be switched quickly and easily between locations, giving customers more control over their supply chains and increasing security of supply for critical goods coming into the UK. No other logistics business can offer this level of flexibility and certainty,” Schulze added.
The performance in the first half of the year was driven by a new international service, in addition to strong throughput from existing customers. Goods imported and exported which saw strong growth in the first half of the year included coffee, tea and clothing.