£10 million in cocaine found on Banana ship in Kent port

Cocaine hidden deep within a container ship at Sheerness Port in Kent has been seized as part of a National Crime Agency investigation involving police officers and Border Force.

The drugs, which weighed 137 kilos, were found on a Panamanian-registered ship carrying a load of bananas.

They had been placed in four large holdalls which were hidden below the water line inside the sea chest, an intake area for sea water to assist stability.

The ship was destined for the Netherlands but, on the basis of information supplied by the NCA, specialist teams undertook searches after the vessel docked at Sheerness on 14 October.

After carrying out an underwater search of the ship’s hull in reduced visibility, a specialist National Police Chiefs Council dive team took five hours to recover the drugs, which were behind bolted-up grills, with the assistance of officers from the Border Force National Deep Rummage Team. Help was also provided by port operator Peel Ports.

The cocaine is likely to have had a UK street value in excess of £10 million once cut and sold.

It is one of only two underwater concealments of class A drugs of its kind ever discovered in the UK, the last being at Bristol in November 2021 when 46 kilos of cocaine was detected.


NCA Operations Manager David Phillips said: “This was an extremely rare and sophisticated concealment, and shows how far criminal networks will go to get dangerous drugs like cocaine into circulation.

“The sale of such class A drugs is controlled by gangs who inflict violence and exploitation in our communities.

“I’d like to thank the police dive team, who worked in challenging conditions to recover the drugs, assisted by our colleagues in Border Force.

“Such collaboration shows our collective determination to tackle organised criminal groups head on, and stem the supply of harmful drugs like cocaine.”

NCA investigators believe the end destination for the drugs was likely to have been the Netherlands, and are now working with law enforcement partners there and in Panama.

Stephen Whitton, Deputy Director of Border Force Maritime Command, said:

“The combined efforts of the NCA, police and Border Force, have prevented £10 million worth of cocaine from plaguing our streets and countries nearby.


“Border Force remain committed to working round the clock to intercept drug supply chains and will continue work closely with our counterparts to identify and prevent the new methods criminals take to smuggling illegal drugs, in or out of the UK.”

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *