6 tons of cocaine hidden in banana shipment seized, UK officials say

FILE - Banana shipment where cocaine was found in the UK's Southampton Port

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and Border Force in the United Kingdom seized a record-breaking 6 tons (5.7 tonnes) of cocaine after it was discovered in a shipment of bananas that came from South America. 

The shipment was brought in to the U.K.’s Southampton Port on Feb. 8. Specialist Border Force officers were asked by the NCA to search the shipment. 

During the search, officers found blocks of drugs hidden within the cargo of bananas. The shipment was believed to be headed to the Port of Hamburg in Germany. 


FILE - Record-breaking cocaine seizure in the UK. (NCA)

The estimated value of the cocaine was £450 million or roughly 570 million U.S. dollars, according to the NCA.  

"This record-breaking seizure will represent a huge hit to the international organized crime cartels involved, denying them massive profits. The work of the NCA was crucial to making it happen," said Chris Farrimond, NCA director. 

Investigations into identifying the people involved in this shipment are ongoing, the NCA said. 

"This government takes a zero-tolerance approach to the supply of illegal drugs, and I am grateful to dedicated Border Force officers and the NCA for their work to apprehend this record-breaking seizure. This seizure sends a clear message to criminals that they will be caught. Our Border Force officers continue to work relentlessly to protect our borders and ensure the safety and security of the public," said Tom Pursglove, minister for legal migration and the border. 

The previous record for largest seizure in the U.K. was 4 tons of cocaine found at the same port in 2022 and in 2015, a little over 3 tons of cocaine was found aboard a tug boat in Scotland.  

This story was reported from Los Angeles.